New York Reportedly Dropping Mask Mandates For Businesses, But Not Yet Schoolchildren

(Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Brooklyn Academy of Music )

Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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Democratic New York Gov. Kathy Hochul will announce Wednesday that she’s ending the state’s indoor mask-or-vaccine mandate, according to The New York Times.

New York has one of the most stringent COVID-19 restrictions currently in place in America, with indoor businesses required to check for proof of vaccination from customers or require them to wear masks. Hochul will reportedly join a litany of other Democratic governors who have decided in recent days to loosen coronavirus restrictions, such as New Jersey’s Phil Murphy and Delaware’s John Carney.

Hochul’s mandate was set to expire Thursday, and according to the NYT she will let it lapse without renewal. She reportedly isn’t yet decided on the mask mandate for students across the state, though, which is set to expire in two weeks. (RELATED: CNN Medical Analyst Says Mask Mandate Should End Because ‘Science Has Changed.’ But Has It?)

Some Democrats and their allies have suggested that mask mandates can now be dropped due to new science, such as data suggesting cloth masks do little to contain virus spread and that vaccines work well against Omicron. However, one of President Joe Biden’s top COVID-19 advisers admitted as early as August 2021 that cloth masks are not particularly effective at preventing COVID-19 from spreading, and there was never any evidence showing that vaccines available in the U.S. were not effective at preventing hospitalization or death from the Omicron variant.

Meanwhile, polling suggests that Americans may be turning against continued restrictions to fight the pandemic. An Axios-Ipsos poll released Tuesday, conducted Feb. 4-7, found that a majority of Americans want to reopen society fully or begin moving in that direction, and two-thirds accept that the U.S. will not eradicate the virus within the next year.