An indoor mask mandate in New York State will end on Thursday, but masks will still be required in schools and for everyone using public transit.

For the last two months, customers and workers statewide have been required to cover their faces or show proof of COVID-19 vaccination in most indoor settings. But the statewide indoor business mask-or-vaccine requirement will be lifted starting Thursday. The move is not mandatory: It remains optional for businesses, local governments and counties to enforce, state officials said in a news release.

“As we begin a new phase in our response to this pandemic, my top priority is making sure we keep New York safe, open and moving forward,” Governor Kathy Hochul said in the release. “I want to thank the health care workers, business owners and everyday New Yorkers who acted responsibly during the Omicron surge by masking up and getting vaccinated. But make no mistake: while we’re moving in the right direction, this pandemic isn’t over and our new Winter Toolkit shows us the path forward.”

Masks will still be required in schools, which will send test kits home with students when they begin their upcoming break. The masking mandate for schools will be reassessed in early March.

New York’s move to drop indoor mask mandates follows similar actions by a growing number of states, including California, which will ditch mask requirements for the vaccinated on Feb. 15.

However, as reported earlier this week by CNN, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said her agency still “recommends that people mask in public indoor settings in areas of high or substantial transmission.”

Masking in schools is also still recommended by the CDC, regardless of vaccination status.

“I am fully confident that it will be safe to have kids take off masks in school, particularly in schools with high vaccination rates,” Dr. Megan Ranney, of Brown University School of Public Health, in Providence, R.I., told CBS News. “My worry is that we’re not quite there yet.”

More information

For more on masks, head to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCE: CBS News, CNN, New York State Governor’s office news release

Source: HealthDay

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