NYC scraps indoor vaccine requirements, school mask mandates

Students wear masks when they enter the East Side Community High School in the East Village on Jan. 18, 2022, in New York City. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Students wear masks when they enter the East Side Community High School in the East Village on Jan. 18, 2022, in New York City. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

March 4 (UPI) -- Mayor Eric Adams on Friday announced that New York City would suspend vaccine requirements and proof of vaccination for indoor entertainment venues, gyms and restaurants.

Businesses that are covered under the lifted restrictions include restaurants, bars and nightclubs, fitness centers and studios, movie theaters, museums, sports arenas, and other indoor entertainment spaces.


However, Adams said that businesses that previously had to enforce vaccine mandates will be allowed to still require proof of vaccination, such as an Excelsior Pass or CLEAR Health Pass, and masking if they choose.

"Two years ago, New York City was the epicenter of the pandemic, but thanks to New Yorkers getting vaccinated and getting boosted we have made tremendous progress," Adams said in a statement.

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"New Yorkers should be getting out and enjoying our amazing city. The fight may not be over, but we're clearly winning the war. We are open for business and New York City has its groove back."

Adams also announced Friday that masks will no longer be required on public school grounds for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Masks will still be required for children under the age of 5 because they are not yet eligible for the vaccine.


All other remaining COVID-19 restrictions will still be in effect including vaccination requirements for city employees.

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Last week, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced plans to end the state mask requirement in schools starting on March 2 while praising the state's "significant progress" in defeating the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

"Because New Yorkers have stepped up, we can confidently remove the statewide mask requirement in our schools," Hochul said. "This is a huge step forward for our kids and communities and I am grateful to the students, educators and parents for their dedication to keeping us all safe."

College students in the City University of New York system will still be required to wear masks on campus, university officials said in a statement. It was not immediately clear if the State University of New York system would adjust its mask mandates for students.

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In a statement on Friday, Hochul said 92% of New Yorkers over the age of 18 have received at least one dose of a vaccine while 83% are considered fully vaccinated. The Empire State is continuing its drive to get people vaccinated with more than 313,000 vaccine doses administered in the past week.

Nearly 2,000 people tested positive for the virus on Friday as hospitalizations dropped to 1,631 and 17 deaths were reported by healthcare facilities.


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