New York City Lifts Covid Vaccine Mandate For Indoor Venues, Ends Public School Mask Requirement

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New York City has rolled back its strictest anti-Covid measures, including vaccine mandates for indoor spaces.

Public school children from kindergarten through 12th grade will also no longer be required to wear masks on school grounds, city officials said.

Mayor Eric Adams announced the changes, which take effect Monday, during a news conference in Times Square. He closed his remarks by saying the momentous decision is “clearly an Arnold Schwarzenegger moment – we’ll be back.”

The choice of location for the news conference was not accidental. The pullback has significant repercussions for movie theaters, Broadway, concert venues and sports arenas, where strict mask mandates and vaccine requirements have been in place for nearly a year.

New York City’s positivity rate is now just 1.8%, Adams said, and a vaccination rate north of 80% gives the city confidence that it can ease the requirements. The rollback of the requirements represents a major milestone during the pandemic, Adams said.

“Two years ago we were the epicenter and two months ago we were once again the epicenter with the Omicron variant,” Adams said. “It’s been two years of pain, heartbreak and uncertainty. … But we dug deep, and we got through.”

Adams said theaters, restaurants and other businesses can use their discretion if they prefer to continue requiring patrons to show proof of vaccination. He said mask wearing is still recommended in large group settings, but will no longer be required. He also said the city will continue to track infection trends and could always reinstate stricter requirements in the future.

Speaking before Adams, New York City Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi said the city has now reached a “low” alert level. While nearly 40,000 New Yorkers have died due to Covid, officials said vaccination efforts have helped avert 48,000 deaths.

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