New York Lifts Mask Mandate in Most Places, Including Public Transit


A woman wearing a mask rides the subway in New York City on Oct. 12, 2021. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

The Epoch Times

By Allen Zhong

Masks are not required in most places starting Wednesday, including the public transit, Gov. Kathy Hochul has announced.

“Department of Health will be issuing new guidance regarding masks based on the CDC guidance and starting today, masks will be optional,” she said during a press conference on Wednesday.

Masks are optional on public transportation, in for-hire vehicles, at airports, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, and detention centers, according to a statement posted on the state government website.

However, masks will continue to be required at adult care and health care facilities regulated by the state Department of Health, and in clinical settings regulated by the Office of Mental Health, Office of Addiction Services and Supports, and Office for People With Developmental Disabilities.

The Empire State first initiated the mask requirement in April 2020.

“Thanks to everyone who has been compliant on the subway for 28 months,” Hochul said.

Epoch Times Photo
A poster alerting for the wearing of masks is seen on a 42nd Street subway entrance in New York City, on Aug. 2, 2021. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

“Masks are now optional for customers on our subways, buses, and commuter rail. We encourage riders to continue to wear masks throughout our public transit system. Please respect other riders’ choices,” the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) wrote in an update on their website.

MTA said it had updated electronic signs on subways and in stations to make clear mask use is now optional.

“It became more and more difficult to justify and to enforce a mask requirement as so much of the city and so many other places were opening up,” MTA Chief Executive Janno Lieber said at a news conference.

In April, the Biden administration decided to no longer enforce a U.S. mask mandate on public transportation after a federal judge in Florida ruled the directive unlawful. New York declined to update along with the Biden policy.

Though the MTA reportedly stopped tracking compliance with mask-wearing after the federal government’s decision, the New York state government retained the mask mandate while many other public transportation systems, including New Jersey Transit, decided to relax the mask requirement.

Reuters contributed to the report.