(Bloomberg) — As of Thursday, New Yorkers no longer need masks to enter many businesses. Other states are also relaxing their masking guidelines this week.
The changes, however, have the potential to cause as much confusion as relief. The new policies vary in their details and contradict some of the current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which said this week they were working on recommendations to governors on how to relax mask-wearing measures. “We’re working on those guidelines,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday, warning that “our hospitalizations are still high, our death rates are still high. So as we work toward that and we’re encouraged by current trends, we are not there yet.
Meanwhile, federal mandates still require masks to be worn on public transportation and at airports.
So where do you still have to hide? Here’s a guide to some of the latest rules. New York
Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul lifted a mask mandate on state businesses, but left it in place in schools and nursing homes.
“I want to thank the healthcare workers, business owners and everyday New Yorkers who acted responsibly during the omicron push by masking up and getting the shots,” Hochul said. “But make no mistake: although we are moving in the right direction, this pandemic is not over.”
Where masks will still be needed:
- Healthcare establishments, day care centers
- Group residential facilities, such as nursing homes and homeless shelters
- correctional institutions
- In schools for kindergarten through high school students (state will reevaluate in early March)
- In public transport and in transport hubs
Where masks will no longer be needed:
- Retail stores
Businesses and local governments will be able to impose their own mask requirements, if they wish. For example, the Broadway League said theaters would keep their mask mandates in place until at least April 30.
New York City
In New York, proof of vaccination will still be required to enter restaurants, gyms and indoor entertainment venues that fall under the city’s “Key to NYC” mandate.
Wearing a mask is recommended but is no longer mandatory. Like elsewhere in the state, business owners and places have the right to impose their own mask rules regardless of vaccination status. “NY no longer mandates masks at indoor businesses… But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wear one,” Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine wrote on Twitter. “It’s time for caution again.” In accordance with federal guidelines, masks will be mandatory in taxis and subways. A mandate will also remain in place in hospitals and schools, in congregate residential facilities such as nursing homes and homeless shelters, and in correctional facilities.
Governor Philip Murphy, a Democrat, announced earlier this week that he would no longer require students or teachers to wear masks at school starting March 7. School districts will be able to set their own mask rules. “Schools will not be allowed to ban the use of face coverings by individuals and will have to take disciplinary action for bullying if it occurs as a result of an individual’s choice to continue wearing a mask,” a the health department said in a statement.
Masks will still be required when using public transportation and inside healthcare facilities. Connecticut
Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont recommended Monday that the state lift its mask mandate in schools and daycares on Feb. 28 and allow localities to establish mask rules instead. “We are well positioned to phase out the requirement to wear masks in all schools across the state and move the decision to require it to the local level,” Lamont said.
The recommendation will only go into effect if the Connecticut General Assembly votes to expand — by statute — Lamont’s existing executive order that gives the public health commissioner the ability to set mask requirements in certain settings.
Mask requirements remain for healthcare facilities, public and private transportation, and in correctional facilities. Delaware Democratic Gov. John Carney of Delaware also dropped mask requirements in his state this week, with the new guidelines taking effect Friday. However, Carney extended a mask order for all public and private school students through the end of March to give parents time to get their children vaccinated. Last September, Carney said all educators, staff and school contractors must get vaccinated or agree to undergo weekly testing.
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker announced Wednesday that he intends to lift the state’s mask mandate for indoor public places that went into effect about five months ago. The mandate, which will be lifted on February 28, will still apply to public schools.
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