Holiday shoppers will be back in masks for the remainder of the season.
In response to the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 and a winter surge in numbers, Governor Kathy Hochul announced on Friday a return to mask restrictions at all indoor public places in New York State, unless businesses or venues implement a vaccine requirement. The mandate went into effect on Monday, December 13 and will continue through January 15.
“Hospitalizations and positivity rates are on the rise, we’re seeing reduced hospital bed capacity, and vaccinations are lower than we’d like to see in certain areas of the state,” Hochul said in an emailed announcement sent out on Sunday. The Governor pointed out that the mask mandate was only temporary through January 15, at which time she and her team would reevaluate based on current conditions.
“As Governor, my two top priorities are to protect the health of New Yorkers and to protect the health of our economy,” Hochul added, noting that these measures would do just that. “We shouldn’t have reached this point, especially with the vaccine at our disposal, and I share many New Yorkers’ frustration that we are not past this pandemic yet,” she said.
Despite the surge, Hochul thanked the more than 80% of adult New Yorkers who have “done the right thing to get fully vaccinated,” and said if others would follow suit, such measures would no longer be necessary.
According to data updated December 13 on the website COVID Act Now, risk level for infection in Suffolk County is “very high.” Daily new cases are up to 1,028.6, or 69.7 per 100,000, with two deaths per day and a positive test rate of 7.2%.
“We must take action. I’m confident we can do this,” Hochul said.