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New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, announced Wednesday that she will lift indoor vaccination or facemask mandates for businesses and establishments open to the public in her state.
The measure exempts schools, where students will continue to be required to wear a mask, and other crowded, gathering places such as public transportation stations, shelters and medical facilities.
“We are not where we were in early December,” Hochul tweeted. “New Yorkers did the right thing to get through the winter surge, and we can now lift the statewide mask-or-vaccine requirement for indoor businesses starting tomorrow.”
The governor clarified that counties, cities, and businesses may choose to require masks as they see fit.
Hochul also said he has spoken with teachers, administrators and parents about options to keep schools “open and safe,” and that children will be required to take tests before returning to school. He further clarified that measures regarding schools will make an “assessment” in March.
The beginning of the end of the mandates
New York’s decision comes at a time when several Democratic states have decided to lift or ease restrictions, and after weeks of strong worldwide protests demanding an end to the mandates.
New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Oregon and California are other blue states that have announced the end of indoor facemask mandates.
Republican states such as Alabama, Arizona, Florida and Virginia have ended restrictions as of mid-2021, while others such as Texas and Georgia have issued executive orders prohibiting the state’s establishment of restrictions against individuals and private facilities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.