It’s a big day in New York. After 28 months of masking up on public transit, New Yorkers are no longer required to wear a mask on the subway, buses or trains.
Governor Kathy Hochul announced the change during a press conference on Wednesday, noting that New York is going from “required” to “optional” when it comes to masking up in most places.
Starting today, masks will be optional in some places where they had previously been required, including on mass transit. pic.twitter.com/5zTT4uRB6h
— Governor Kathy Hochul (@GovKathyHochul) September 7, 2022
Of course, you’ll still need to mask up at state-regulated health care facilities and clinical settings, but this is a “new normal” that will be seen on public transit, in shelters, correctional facilities and detention centers.
The decision to remove the mandate is based on CDC guidance and a “stabilization” of COVID-19 cases, according to the governor.
“[Masks have] always been a visible reminder that something is not normal here and it was there for the right reason—it protected health and now we’re in a far different place than we had been,” Hochul said. “This is not a one-day snapshot we’re watching trends and this is a stabilization of those numbers. I still expect to see many ppl on the trains, and subways and walking down the streets [wearing masks]…that is their choice. It’s encouraged but optional.”
A quick check of NYC’s case numbers shows about an 8.7% percent positivity rate, which is declining. The hospitalizations and deaths are also decreasing.
According to Gothamist, mask compliance on the subway has fallen off—a rider masking survey in April showed rates had fallen to 64% compliance, down from roughly 90% the previous year.
Hochul says the MTA will roll out the yellow signs (above) shortly and that we all need to be respectful of each other’s choices to wear or not wear a mask (where it’s optional).
“I know this is a big change,” Hochul said. “Let’s respect each other’s choices—what that means is if you choose not to [wear a mask] that is your own decision. You make your own determination but do not judge your fellow passengers on what their choices are. Let’s be respectful.”
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.