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Hochul hints that mask mandates for public transport won’t be lifted anytime soon

Gov. Kathy Hochul indicated Thursday that New Yorkers shouldn’t hold their breath because she’s lifting the mask mandate on public transit — and vaguely said a “talk” along the way would be “soon.”

“We often talk about it. We’ll get to a point where it won’t be necessary anymore. We’ve seen a trend – just when you think you’re talking about lifting requirements, we had a spike about a month and a half ago,” she told reporters during an independent morning news conference at Moynihan Train Hall.

“We’ve been up in all of our counties, all out of regions.”

But now, due to a “17-day decline” in the state’s coronavirus cases, “New York is moving to a place where we should be able to have these conversations soon,” Hochul explained.

“But I also want people to feel safe and secure – safety wise but also health wise,” the governor added. “So we’ll talk about that soon.”

NYS Gov. Kathy Hochul
While the federal government stopped enforcing mask requirements for airports, airplanes and transportation in April after a federal judge’s decision, Hochul opted to keep them on public transit in the Empire State.
Robert Mueller
subway masks
Wearing masks on the subway has declined in recent months.
Matthew McDermott

Coronavirus cases have been falling in recent weeks but are still higher than in early summer last year, despite few hospitalizations or deaths among vaccinated New Yorkers. As of Tuesday, the average seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate is 5.6% – down from the over 8% recorded in mid-May, but higher than the under 1% level recorded in early June 2021.

While the federal government stopped enforcing mask requirements for airports, airplanes and other modes of transportation in April after a federal judge’s decision, Hochul chose to keep them on public transit in the Empire State.

Despite their continued regulation, the proportion of those who have chosen to flout them has skyrocketed recently, according to MTA data.

MTA bus with "mask required" Sign
As of Tuesday, the seven-day average COVID-19 positivity rate is 5.6%
Christopher Sadowski

The agency’s latest mask compliance surveys showed that just 64% of subway riders are wearing their masks correctly – up from 90% at the same time in 2021. Buses are where the proportion of those complying with the state rule lies , at only slightly higher 67%. – a drop of 91% in spring 2021.

In April, the head of the MTA downplayed concerns about a recent reduction in the number of people following the state’s mask requirement for mass transit, claiming bus and train drivers are more concerned about safety than they are amid the rising number of transit assaults about risks related to coronaviruses.

“It’s not a big drama in our local transport system,” Chairman Janno Lieber said during a press conference on April 27. “There are other issues that I think are more important to New Yorkers right now as they use mass transit and get back to work.”

While Hochul appears poised to require New Yorkers to mask up on their commutes for the foreseeable future, her comments Thursday follow months of Gov. and Mayor Eric Adams lifting coronavirus-related restrictions.

As COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations have declined in the Big Apple and across New York state, the two chief executives recently approved immunization proof requirements for indoor venues, mandatory masking for students eligible to be vaccinated, and ended state business mask rules. And on Thursday, Adams announced that he is eliminating mask requirements for students and daycares ages 2 to 4 who are not yet vaccinated.

But Adams has retained the Big Apple’s vaccination mandates, instituted by former Mayor Bill de Blasio, for both municipal and private sector workers.

https://nypost.com/2022/06/09/hochul-hints-mass-transit-mask-mandates-not-lifting-anytime-soon/ Hochul hints that mask mandates for public transport won’t be lifted anytime soon

JACLYN DIAZ

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