Riders on public transit are no longer required to wear masks in New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Wednesday, bringing the state in line with other transportation systems nationwide that relaxed their rules in April when a federal judge in Florida overturned a nationwide mandate.
State officials are also getting rid of mask requirements in homeless shelters, but they will remain in health care facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes, she added.
“We are seeing major declines in hospitalizations,” Ms. Hochul said. “We have to restore some normalcy to our lives.”
Covid-19 infection rates in New York have been steadily dropping since July, when a sixth wave spread through the virus-weary city.
During Wednesday’s public announcement, streamed live on the internet from East Harlem, Ms. Hochul urged New Yorkers to get a new booster shot targeting the Omicron variant and rolled up her sleeve to get one herself. The Food and Drug Administration authorized the new shots last month and they are now available at pharmacies and health centers.
The announcement came just as Ms. Hochul, a Democrat running for a full term as governor in November, kicked off her general election campaign against her Republican opponent, Representative Lee Zeldin of Long Island. While the race has largely centered on issues of crime, inflation and abortion rights, Republicans have also sought to make the state’s remaining pandemic-era mandates a campaign issue.
The move by Ms. Hochul could help neutralize those attacks. The announcement came six months after Ms. Hochul coordinated with Democratic governors in other states to drop indoor mask mandates in February in a move that was largely seen as a recognition that many voters had grown tired of mandates and were prepared to live with the risks posed by the virus.
The New York Taxi & Limousine Commission also still calls for masks in cabs and ride-share vehicles, like Uber and Lyft.