Gov. Hochul lifts mask mandate while riding mass transit

New signs will be displayed throughout the mass transit system letting riders know that masks are encouraged but optional

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Thursday, September 8, 2022
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Gov. Kathy Hochul has lifted the requirement to wear masks while riding mass transit in New York. Jim Dolan has more on the announcement.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Gov. Kathy Hochul has lifted the requirement to wear masks while riding mass transit during a news conference on Wednesday.

New signs will be displayed throughout the mass transit system letting riders know that masks are encouraged but optional.

The new guidance is effective immediately. Free masks will continue to be available at subway station booths upon request as well as on commuter railroad trains.

Hochul also stressed the importance of respecting the choices of others.

"Since the beginning of the pandemic the MTA has been guided by the health experts," said MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber. "With revised guidance from the New York State Department of Health, which was the basis for the mask requirement on public transit, now is the right time for New Yorkers to make personal choices about what works best for them."

Masks will also be optional at airports, shelters, correctional facilities and detention centers.

Despite the lifting of masks on mass transit, masks will still be required at health care facilities, including nursing homes, across the state.

"The nursing homes are an important setting because as we know, the elderly, people 65 years and older, have bore the brunt of severe illness and mortality during this," said State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett. "We're also requiring masks in adult care facilities, but in other settings, we urge people to pay attention to their community level."

This also applies to facilities regulated by the Office of Mental Health, Office of Addiction Services and Supports, and Office for People With Developmental Disabilities.

Along with all the transportation agencies in the state, masks are now also optional on TLC registered vehicles, like taxis and for-hire vehicles.

"The health and safety of our drivers and riders remains a top priority for TLC," a TLC spokesperson said. "In keeping with New York State policy, masks for passengers and drivers in TLC-licensed vehicles are strongly encouraged, but optional."

In a statement, Lyft and Uber both said masks will also be optional in all rides and are in the process of updating their app to reflect the changes.

Hochul also received her updated booster shot specific to the omicron strain of COVID-19. She encouraged all other New Yorkers to do the same.

"The novel coronavirus has changed over time, with many new variants, including Omicron," Bassett said. "These bivalent boosters for the first time are tailored to a circulating variant. I encourage all eligible New Yorkers to take advantage of this advance and contact their health provider, visit the local pharmacy, or call their county health department to get this booster as soon as possible."

To schedule an appointment for the updated COVID-19 booster, New Yorkers should contact their regular health care provider, local pharmacy, or local county health department. New Yorkers can also visit vaccines.gov, text their ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find nearby locations.

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