Hochul hints that transit mask mandates won’t be lifted anytime soon
Governor Kathy Hochul indicated on Thursday that New Yorkers shouldn’t hold their breath over her lifting of the public transit mask mandate – vaguely saying that a “conversation” on the move would be happening “soon”.
“We often talk about it. We will come to a point where this is no longer necessary. We saw a trend – just when you think you’re about to talk about lifting requirements, we had a peak about a month and a half ago, ”she told reporters during the interview. an unrelated morning press conference at Moynihan Train Hall.
“We were up in all of our counties, all out of the regions.”
But now, due to a “17-day decline” in coronavirus cases in the state, New York is “heading to a place where we should soon be able to have these conversations,” Hochul explained.
“But I also want people to feel safe – in terms of safety, but also health,” the governor added. “So we’re going to have a conversation soon about that.”
Coronavirus cases have declined in recent weeks but are still higher than they were last year at the start of the summer, but with few hospitalizations or deaths among vaccinated New Yorkers. On Tuesday, the seven-day average COVID-19 positivity rate was 5.6% – down from the more than 8% recorded in mid-May but up from the level below 1% recorded in early June 2021.
While the federal government in April stopped enforcing the mask requirement for airports, airplanes and other modes of transportation after a federal judge’s ruling, Hochul opted to keep it for public transportation in the Empire State.
Despite its continued regulation, the share of those who chose to flout it has recently skyrocketed, according to MTA data.
The agency’s most recent surveys of mask compliance showed that only 64% of subway riders are wearing their masks correctly, down from 90% at the same time in 2021. On buses, the share of those following the rule of the state is only slightly higher at 67%. — a drop of 91% in the spring of 2021.
In April, the MTA chief downplayed concerns about a recent reduction in the number of people following the state’s transit mask requirement, saying bus and train riders are more concerned about safety in the face of the increase in the number of assaults in public transport than by the risks linked to coronaviruses.
“It’s not a huge drama for our transit system,” Chairman Janno Lieber said at a news conference April 27. “There are other issues, which I think are more important to New Yorkers right now, because they’re using public transportation, starting to come to work again.”
As Hochul looks set to require New Yorkers to continue to wear masks while traveling for the foreseeable future, his comments on Thursday follow months of Governor and Mayor Eric Adams lifting restrictions. related to coronaviruses.
As COVID-19-related deaths and hospitalizations have declined in the Big Apple and across New York State, the two chief executives recently ended the requirement for proof of vaccination in indoor locations, at mandatory masking for students eligible for inoculation, and state business mask rule. And on Thursday, Adams announced he was removing mandatory mask-wearing for students and daycare children ages 2 to 4, who cannot yet get vaccinated.
But Adams kept the Big Apple vaccination mandates for municipal and private sector workers instituted by former Mayor Bill de Blasio.