NYC ‘strongly recommends’ masks indoors but won’t mandate them, de Blasio says


NEW YORK — New York City residents should wear masks in indoor public settings regardless of vaccination status but they will not be required to do so, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday.

The mayor said he “strongly recommends” fully vaccinated New Yorkers wear a mask indoors, especially around unvaccinated individuals, but stopped short of a mandate in public spaces.

The recommendation was based on science, data and strategy, according to de Blasio. A mandate was not issued because the city’s vaccination rate offers different opportunities, the mayor said.

“Mask wearing is not a substitute for vaccinations,” de Blasio added.

The announcement came less than an hour after Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged local governments to adopt the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s new mask guidance, which recommends face coverings for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in indoor public spaces in regions with “substantial” or “high” COVID transmission rates.

As of Monday, all five counties in New York City were considered to have “substantial” transmission rates as the city continues to see a concerning spike in COVID cases linked to the highly transmissible delta variant.

The state Health Department reported 2,143 new COVID cases, a one-day positivity rate of 2.96% and seven-day average of 2.53%.

Staten Island had the second highest seven-day positivity rate of all regions in the state at 3.37%. New York City’s overall seven-day average was 2.36%, according to state Health Department data.

When asked if he would consider a full mask mandate, the mayor said “all options are on the table,” but the focus was entirely on vaccinations.

“Victory is staring us in the face,” de Blasio said. “We could put this problem to bed if everyone gets vaccinated.”

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