New York State Lifts Indoor Mask Mandate as Omicron Retreats

Masks will no longer be required indoors in most businesses in New York State come Thursday.

At a press conference on Wednesday, N.Y. Governor Kathy Hochul announced that she will allow the state’s current indoor mask mandate to expire on Thursday, Feb. 10, with no plans to renew the health measure that was implemented in mid-December as the Omicron variant rapidly spread.

Hochul noted that the statewide indoor business mask-or-vaccine policy will now remain optional for businesses, local governments, and counties to enforce. Masks will still be required, however, in hospitals, nursing homes, shelters, transportation and other related entities mandated by the federal government.

This news comes as the state reported a 93% decline of new COVID-19 cases since its Jan. 7 peak, while statewide hospitalizations are down 63% since its Jan. 12 peak.

“Our priority has always been to keep New Yorkers safe. We will continue to do exactly that, and let the data and science guide our decision making,” Governor Hochul said. “As we look forward to continued progress with downward trends in cases and hospitalizations, we need to remain vigilant and continue using the tools at our disposal to protect ourselves and our loved ones. That means getting vaccinated, getting the booster, getting tested, and staying home, if you’re not feeling well.”

The expiration of the mandate is good news for retailers, as some businesses took a hit in December and January with the spread of Omicron causing some stores to close temporarily due to the surge.

Retail Council of New York State president and CEO Melissa O’Connor is happy with the news. In a statement on Wednesday, O’Connor said, “Today’s announcement is a positive development for retailers throughout the state and we will continue to collaborate with the Governor on economic recovery efforts.”

New York is the latest state to let its indoor mask mandate to expire. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced earlier this week that students and school employees would no longer need to wear face coverings. Officials in California, Connecticut, Delaware and Oregon also said they would withdraw some mask measures.

Access exclusive content