Mayor Eric Adams announced that New York City will eliminate school mask mandates and vaccine requirements for restaurants, gyms, and movie theaters on March 7th, if case numbers remain low. The mayor decided to wait until March 7th to give business owners the time to adapt and will allow NYC to ensure that the best public health decision was made. All other vaccine mandates will remain in place.
After the massive surge driven by the Omicron variant, the number of new infections in NYC has plummeted from over 43,000 to an average of 619 new daily cases in the latest data.
Mr. Adams announcement came hours after Governor Kathy Hochul announced that the statewide mask mandate for schools would be lifted on March 2nd, allowing local officials to assess the need for additional restrictions in their schools. New York City will continue to provide masks for any student or staff member who wishes to continue to wear them. In addition, venues and businesses that choose to require proof of vaccination from their customers may continue to do so.
“The business community is eager to get beyond pandemic conditions and restrictions”, said Kathryn Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City. Indeed revitalizing New York’s economy is a major goal for the mayor as New York City’s unemployment rate has remained stubbornly high, almost double the national average. Nearly every industry, from construction to finance to social services, has fewer people employed now than before the pandemic hit New York almost two years ago. To help the small business community, upon first taking office, Mr. Adams signed the Small Business Forward Executive Order to reform existing business regulations, ensuring local businesses face fewer needless fines and penalties. The Executive Order builds upon Local Law 80 and calls on the Department of Buildings, Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Sanitation, Fire Department, Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to review business regulations with the goal of reducing fine schedules and allowing for cure periods or warnings for first-time violations.