New York City lifts COVID vaccine and mask mandates Monday; New Jersey ends masking for schools

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) — New York City took another step in its return to normalcy amid the COVID-19 pandemic Monday, with the city dropping several safety protocols including the school mask mandate and vaccination requirements for businesses.

Restaurants and indoor venues, including restaurants, theaters and gyms, no longer have to require proof of vaccination.

“We’re in that place right now where we’re lifting our across-the-board mandate for Key2NYC,” Mayor Eric Adams, who announced the relaxed coronavirus rules last week, said on WINS radio Monday morning.

However, some public indoor businesses like Broadway shows are keeping their mask and vaccine requirements through at least the end of this month.

Masks will also still be required on mass transit and at medical facilities.

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Most of the city’s public school students were allowed in class without masks on Monday for the first time since March 2020. Masks are still required for children under 5, who are not eligible to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Adams praised New Yorkers for following rules on masking and social distancing over the past two years.

“We did our job as New Yorkers and now we’re winning,” the mayor said on NY1. “COVID is no longer in control of our lives. We are in control of our lives.”

The Key2NYC vaccination mandate was imposed last year by Adams’ predecessor, Bill de Blasio, in a bid to increase vaccination rates by barring the unvaccinated from many activities. The city is dropping the mandate as other U.S. cities including Los Angeles and Chicago are also easing some virus rules.

Right now, the COVID infection rate is at 1.8% — the lowest level since August.

New York and other cities are dropping virus rules as the most recent surge in infections fueled by the omicron variant wanes.

ALSO READ | Mayor Eric Adams says Key to NYC, public school masks mandate both end on Monday

More than 4,000 people in New York City died of COVID-19 in January and February, making those two months the deadliest of the pandemic since the spring of 2020. New infections have plunged, though, in recent weeks.

The city is now averaging a little more than 700 new cases per day of the virus, the lowest infection rate since late July.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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