Hochul Lifts Mask Regulations on Public Transportation

By Matis Glenn

A train approaching the 14th Street subway station. (123rf)

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Wednesday that all mask requirements on public transportation have been lifted, effective immediately.

Masks were previously required on all NYC buses, subways, LIRR and Metro North lines. “Masks are encouraged, but optional,” Hochul said in a press conference.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett stressed the importance of wearing masks in health care facilities – areas where the mask mandates still apply – and cautioned New Yorkers to exercise judgement in unregulated areas and to “pay attention to their community level” of transmission.

Hochul said that the mandates were originally necessary for public health, and are now being lifted because “we’re in a far different place than we had been,” citing low COVID transmission, hospitalization and death rates statewide.

Mask regulations will also be lifted in jails and detention centers.

The mandates began early in the pandemic, under then-Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The MTA has released data showing that mask-wearing on public transportation has declined sharply.

On Tuesday, Hochul appeared at Penn station to discuss renovation plans for the 117-year old subway hub. In the course of her speech, she said that the state needs to accommodate travelers in a “post pandemic era.” A reporter then asked her if she had any plans to get rid of the mask mandates, given that the state is in a post pandemic world. “It’s absolutely under conversation right now, and we’ll be talking about making some announcements on that very shortly,” Hochul answered.

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