Where you should wear a mask (or not) in New York

As the Omicron surge wanes in many parts of the country, state and local authorities, including in New York, have begun to roll back mask mandates.

Coronavirus cases in New York have dropped 62% in the past two weeks and hospitalizations have fallen 48%, according to federal data. About 77% of all residents are fully immunized.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and city health department officials continue to recommend that anyone over the age of 2 wear masks in indoor public spaces in New York City and most of the rest of the country.

But as mandates continue to be overturned, it can be difficult to know exactly where masks are still needed. Here is an overview of the masking rules currently in place in New York.

Yes. The federal government requires masks to be worn on planes, trains and other public transportation. The city is also requiring masks on all public transportation, including taxis and car services.

Expiration date: The federal mandate expires in March, unless renewed. The city has extended its pandemic orders every five days. These orders allow government agencies to put rules in place to protect the public during the coronavirus pandemic.

It depends. The city recommends everyone wear masks in indoor public spaces, but businesses are allowed to set their own mask policies.

Other rules: The city’s health department requires restaurants, gyms and entertainment venues to ask for proof of vaccinations, under a policy known as Key to NYC People ages 5 and older must show proof of vaccination. proof that they have received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, unless they have received the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.


Other rules: Most Off-Broadway theaters and other smaller theaters have also chosen to require masks. Spectators must also be vaccinated, per Key to NYC policy. Some theaters require patrons to have had booster shots, so check the policies before heading to a show.

Expiration date: The Broadway League requires masks until at least April 30.

Everyone, regardless of immunization status, should wear a mask when in a health care setting. Masks are also required inside group residential facilities, including nursing homes and homeless shelters.

Other rules: New York City healthcare workers must present proof of vaccination.

Expiration date: These policies fall under pandemic ordinances that the city extends every five days.

If your workplace doesn’t fall into any of the above categories, wearing a mask will likely depend on the individual rules your workplace decides to establish.

Other rules: Dave A. Chokshi, the city’s health commissioner, has ordered employers to verify that their workers have been vaccinated. The order applies to non-governmental companies that employ more than one worker. It also applies to self-employed residents who interact with other workers and the public.

Expiration date: It depends on where you work.

Yes. The city’s Department of Education requires students and staff to wear face coverings while on school property, including outdoors, and on school buses. Students may remove their masks during lunchtime and during designated “mask breaks”.

Other rules: All students, families, staff and visitors must complete a medical screening form before entering a school building each day. Students who compete in certain sports, such as football, and participate in certain extracurricular activities, including musical theatre, must be vaccinated against Covid-19.

Expiration date: City education officials plan to evaluate the city’s school mask mandate based on what’s happening at the state level.

The state’s school mask mandate is based on a regulation that is set to expire Feb. 21. Governor Kathy Hochul plans to decide whether to extend it after students return from winter break.

Until then, officials plan to continue monitoring the number of coronavirus cases and vaccination rates, and provide schools and parents with Covid test kits.

Sharon Otterman contributed report.

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