Gov. Kathy Hochul lifts MTA mask requirements for commuter trains

New York commuters will no longer be required to wear masks on public transit, Gov. Kathy Hochul said Wednesday.

“As of today, masks are optional,” Hochul said before getting her Omicron variant booster shot in Manhattan.

The Biden administration lifted the federal mask requirement on public transit in April after a judge overruled it, but New York State had maintained its local rule through Wednesday.

Hochul said relatively constant COVID-19 rates since last winter’s Omicron surge and the availability of the new booster vaccine had influenced her decision to end the requirement, which also applies to commuter rails like the Long Island Railroad and Metro-North as New York subways and buses for over two years.

A photo of NY Governor Kathy Hochul.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announces the end of the mask requirement on public transportation in New York.
Matthew McDermott

“It was always a visible reminder that something is not normal here and that it was there for the right reason. It protected health,” she said. “We’re in a very different place than before.”

Hochul will maintain mask requirements for state-regulated healthcare facilities, including hospitals and nursing homes, she said. Requirements in correctional facilities and domestic violence shelters are lifted.

Officials plan to put up signs on public transport asking for the use of masks.

“Masks are recommended but optional. Let’s respect each other’s choices,” the signs will say.

A photo of a mask-mandatory sign outside a subway entrance.

Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo enacted the mask mandate on all public transit systems during the height of the pandemic.

A photo of people on a subway.

MTA officials stopped tracking compliance with the mask mandate in April 2022.

a photo of people in the Bowling Green subway station in New York.

According to reports, the frequency of wearing masks had dropped significantly.

“This means if you decide not to wear a mask, that is your personal choice. You will make your own personal risk assessment of who you are exposed to, your own vulnerabilities and where you work,” the governor said.

“You make your own decision, but don’t judge your fellow travelers by their decisions. Let’s be respectful.”

State health officials will “continue to monitor the numbers” as the virus continues to spread, the governor added.

“We monitor global trends. We’re looking for variants,” she said. “We’re keeping an eye out for updates and vaccines, but we think we’re in a good place right now, especially if New Yorkers take advantage of this refresher.”

Disgraced Ex-Reg. Andrew Cuomo enacted the mask mandate amid the COVID-19 crisis in April 2020. MTA officials stopped tracking compliance in April, but mask-wearing rates had dropped significantly by that time.

MTA officials stopped tracking compliance in April, but the mask-wearing rate had dropped significantly by that time — from 90% the year before to 64%. Gov. Kathy Hochul lifts MTA mask requirements for commuter trains


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