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NYC, N.J. drop COVID-19 mask mandate for schools as cases slow

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Children jump rope and play with face masks below their chin in the street in New York City on March 7, 2022. Starting Monday, children in K-12 schools run by the NYC Department of Education no longer have to wear masks indoors. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/13a7b27e6eb6058338e0dff7df5ec229/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Children jump rope and play with face masks below their chin in the street in New York City on March 7, 2022. Starting Monday, children in K-12 schools run by the NYC Department of Education no longer have to wear masks indoors. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

March 7 (UPI) -- Beginning Monday, New York City and New Jersey are lifting certain COVID-19 restrictions for face masks and proof of vaccination as infections slow in many parts of the United States.

New York City dropped a requirement that said customers must show proof of vaccination to enter restaurants and indoor venues.

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The rules have made the restrictions mandatory in the city, but private businesses can still require COVID-19 precautions. Broadway shows and other venues plan to keep their mask and vaccine requirements through at least the end of March. The masking requirement will also remain in place for mass transit and doctors' offices.

For public schools, masks will be optional and not required for students over 5. They will still be required for early childhood programs and in the nurse's office.

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"When we reflect on this moment in time, people are going to look at the historical changes we did to save the lives of people," New York City Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement Friday.

"We have to say thank you to the doctors and nurses and the bodega workers and the restaurants, the dishwashers, the cooks -- everyday people that did an extraordinary job. Those first responders, those who were police officers, firefighters, everyone coming together -- is showing why we are a professional operation with courage and service."

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Also Monday, for the first time in two years New Jersey will no longer require masks at schools and childcare facilities and on school buses. Individual schools, however, can still impose the rules.

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"With COVID-19 moving into an endemic, the time has come to move toward normalcy," Gov. Phil Murphy said in a statement Friday. "In the past two years, New Jerseyans have shown great strength, resiliency, and kindness during one of the most difficult and trying times in the history of our state."

New Jersey health commissioner Judith Persichilli said that conditions in the state have improved enough to drop the masking requirement. She said, however, that everyone should continue to observe safety measures.

"It does make sense to relax restrictions as we learn to live with the virus," Persichilli said in a statement. "But taking masks off doesn't mean that other strategies should be abandoned. In fact, they become more important."

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