The Perfect Enemy | Hochul lifts COVID-19 mask mandate on public transit, remains for health care facilities
October 5, 2022

Hochul lifts COVID-19 mask mandate on public transit, remains for health care facilities

Hochul lifts COVID-19 mask mandate on public transit, remains for health care facilities  Times Union

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ALBANY — Gov. Kathy Hochul lifted the state’s longstanding mask mandate for public transit and in nearly all other locations, as cases and hospitalizations associated with COVID-19 continue to remain relatively low.

The state’s mask mandate related to health care facilities remains in effect given the congregation of high-risk individuals in those settings, such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities, Hochul said. The requirement covers places regulated by the state Department of Health.

“We have to restore some normalcy to our lives,” Hochul said Wednesday at a news conference in Manhattan.  

The decision, which take effect immediately, comes as a new version of the coronavirus vaccine begins to be distributed. The “bivalent” booster is tailored to address the omicron variant. Health experts hope it can blunt what’s become the annual winter surge in cases of the virus. Hochul received the vaccine booster at the the news conference.

“We have a lot of confidence (the booster) will provide people a lot more protection,” state Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said. She recommended it for anyone who has gone more than two months since their most recent booster shot.

Hochul’s Republican critics have hammered her for maintaining the COVID-19 state of emergency for what they view as far too long. The emergency declaration can allow for the procurement of massive state contracts without a competitive bid process, which has led to ridicule of Hochul from her political opponents and good government groups. The governor has said the state is following all rules and that the emergency order, more recently, has remained in place to allow for a surge in potential availability of nurses. 

Last month, the governor rolled out loosened regulations for the new school year. Among those updates, students were no longer required to wear a mask on a school bus, but if they were taking public transportation to school, they would need to wear one. 

Students, like the rest of the public, will no longer have to wear masks on public transportation. 

Mask requirements on airplanes were dropped in April following litigation against the Biden administration. 

The requirements in New York no longer mandate masks in correctional facilities and detention centers. 

“Let’s respect each other’s choices,” Hochul said. “You make your own determination, but do not judge your fellow passenger on what their choices are.”