NEW YORK (PIX11) — Face masks on public transportation, including New York City subways, will now be optional, effective immediately, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Wednesday.
However, masks will still be required in health care settings, like hospitals and nursing homes, Hochul said.
The mandate will also be lifted in for-hire vehicles, at airports, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, and detention centers. The MTA said it would also apply to buses, commuter railroad, paratransit services, and in stations. Free masks will still be available at subway station booths and on commuter railroad trains.
The mask mandate had been in effect for the past 28 months.
But recent trends have shown the numbers have stabilized, allowing officials to ease the requirement, the governor said. New signs will be posted in the subway system that say, “Masks are encouraged, but optional. Let’s respect each other’s choices.”
“What that means is, you choose not to have a mask, that is your personal decision, you’ll do your own personal risk assessment of who you’re exposed to your own vulnerabilities where you work, you make your own determination, but do not judge your fellow passengers on what their choices are,” Hochul said at a press conference in Manhattan. “Let’s be respectful.”
The state will continue to monitor the global trends and watch for variants and any updates on the vaccine and will adjust accordingly.
Pharmacies this week began getting the bivalent booster, which combines the original vaccine and a new formula aimed at blocking the coronavirus’ omicron variants. The new Pfizer and Moderna cocktail has been cleared by the FDA and should be widely available in the coming days for everyone over the age of 12.
“But we do believe that we’re in a good place right now, especially if New Yorkers take advantage of this booster,” Hochul said.