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As New York City prepares for the omicron variant to appear in the five boroughs, another mask mandate may be brewing.

The city’s health commissioner issued an advisory Monday for mask usage as coordinated efforts get underway on the federal, state and local levels to prevent a spike in COVID cases.

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said the city needs to take stronger steps to protect the public.

The public advocate, first, reminded New Yorkers not to panic, but remain vigilant.

When asked what mandates should go into effect, he said there should be more testing done, not only within the city, but throughout the state.

He also said there should be a mask advisory issued statewide. The advisory, which should be strongly worded, would give New Yorkers the short opportunity to “get it right,” including changing mask signage and using public service announcements to enforce it.

There has been an increase in the amount of vaccinations administered, but Williams acknowledged there are pockets of neighborhoods that remain unvaccinated.

Holiday celebrations

With the new variant, should these events be canceled or adjusted?

Williams said it’s something that needs to be looked at, saying New York “can’t make that mistake again” as the city didn’t act quickly enough the first time.

However, the public advocate said he can’t say right now if events should be canceled, but everything should be monitored heavily.

Should a travel ban be reinstated?

Williams advised people to reconsider traveling plans, but those who are traveling should be masked and vaccinated.

The international travel ban was recently lifted, but should it be reinstated? 

Williams said there are going to be different variants emerging in the future and while we shouldn’t necessarily revert to strict restrictions and bans, precautions should be heightened and we need to take “steady, clear steps” to elevate those steps.

NY governor’s race

Rep. Tom Suozzi just announced he was joining the race for New York governor.

Williams said Suozzi, and many others, including current Gov. Hochul, are stepping into the race and they all want to put their vision forward.

The public advocate believes his vision is what New Yorkers want. 

“We can’t return to normal to get where we need to go,” Williams said.