Where You Need to Wear A Mask (or Don’t) in NYC

As the Omicron surge subsides in many parts of the country, state and local officials, including in New York, have begun to roll back mask mandates.

Coronavirus cases in New York City have dropped 62 percent over the past two weeks, and hospitalizations have decreased 48 percent, according to federal data. Around 77 percent of all residents are fully vaccinated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and city Health Department officials continue to recommend everyone over age 2 wear masks in indoor public spaces in New York and most of the rest of the country.

But as mandates continue to get rolled back, it can be hard to know where exactly masks are still required. Here’s an overview of the masking rules currently in place in New York City.

Do I need a mask to ride the subway?

Yes. The federal government requires masks to be worn on planes, trains and other forms of public transportation. The city also requires masks in all public transportation settings, including taxis and car services.

Expiration date: The federal mandate expires in March, unless it is renewed. The city has been extending its pandemic orders every five days. Those orders allow government agencies to put in place rules aimed at protecting the public during the coronavirus pandemic.

Do I need a mask at indoor restaurants, gyms or entertainment venues?

It depends. The city recommends that everyone wear masks in indoor public spaces, but businesses are allowed to set their own mask policies.

Other rules: The city’s health department requires restaurants, gyms and entertainment venues to ask for proof of vaccination, under a policy known as Key to N.Y.C. People ages 5 to 12 must show proof that they have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, and people 12 and older must show proof of having received two doses.

Do I need a mask to see Broadway shows?

Yes.

Other rules: Most Off-Broadway and other smaller theaters have chosen to require masks as well. Theatergoers must also be vaccinated, under the Key to N.Y.C. policy. Some theaters are requiring patrons to have received booster shots, so check the policies before you head out to see a show.

Updated 

Feb. 17, 2022, 5:51 a.m. ET

Expiration date: The Broadway League is requiring masks at least until April 30.

Do I need a mask in a hospital or nursing home?

Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a mask when in a health care setting. Masks are also required inside group residential facilities, including nursing homes and homeless shelters.

Other rules: New York City health care workers must show proof of vaccination.

Expiration date: These policies fall under the pandemic orders the city extends every five days.

The Coronavirus Pandemic: Key Things to KnowDo I need to wear a mask at work?

If your workplace doesn’t fall under any of the above categories, whether you have to wear a mask will likely depend on the individual rules your workplace decides to set.

Other rules: Dave A. Chokshi, the city’s health commissioner, ordered employers to verify that their workers have been vaccinated. The order applies to non government businesses that employ more than one worker. It also applies to self-employed residents who interact with other workers and the public.

Expiration date: It depends on your workplace.

Do I need a mask inside schools or other child care settings?

Yes. The city’s education department requires students and staff members to wear face coverings when on school property, including outdoors, and while on school buses. Students can remove their masks during lunch time and during designated “mask breaks.”

Other rules: All students, families, staff and visitors must complete a health screening form before entering a school building each day. Students who compete in certain sports, such as football, and take part in certain extracurricular activities, including musical theater, must be vaccinated against Covid-19.

Expiration date: City education officials plan to evaluate the city’s school mask mandate based on what happens on the state level.

The state’s school mask mandate, meanwhile, is based on a regulation that is set to expire on Feb. 21. Gov. Kathy Hochul plans to decide whether to extend it after students return from midwinter break.

Until then, officials plan to continue to monitor coronavirus case numbers and vaccination rates, and provide schools and parents with Covid test kits.

Sharon Otterman contributed reporting.

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