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New York to lift mask-or-vaccine requirement for indoor businesses

New York is lifting its mask-or-vaccine mandate for indoor business, citing declining COVID-19 cases.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) made the announcement during a briefing Wednesday that the requirement for businesses to mandate proof of COVID-19 vaccination or masks indoors will be lifted on Thursday, confirming an earlier report from The New York Times. The mandate had been scheduled to expire that day. 

"It was an emergency, temporary measure put in place literally two months ago, and at this time, we say that it is the right decision to lift this mandate for indoor businesses and let counties, cities, and businesses make their own decisions on what they want to do with respect to masks or the vaccination requirement," Hochul said. "Given the declining cases, given the declining hospitalizations, that is why we feel comfortable to lift this in effort tomorrow."

Hochul added, though, that counties, cities, and businesses may still require masks, and "I suspect when I walk the streets of New York City, as I often do, I'm still going to see a lot of people wearing masks because they will feel safer."

In lifting the requirement, Hochul was "marking a turning point in the state's coronavirus response," The New York Times wrote. Still, the statewide mask requirement remains in effect in numerous settings including at buses and train stations, and a mask mandate for schools is still in effect as well. 

Other states, including Massachusetts, have also announced plans to roll back mask requirements. At the same time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Wednesday it's continuing to recommend wearing masks indoors in areas with substantial or high transmission. "That is essentially everywhere in the country," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told Reuters.