New York State ending mask mandates on trains, transit By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Subway riders wearing protective face masks exit the shuttle train during the coronavirus pandemic at the Times Square stop in New York City, U.S., March 11, 2021. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

By David Shepardson

(Reuters) – New York state is ending a 28-month-old COVID-19 mandate requiring masks on trains, buses and other modes of public transit, Governor Kathy Hochul said at a news conference on Wednesday.

“Starting today masks will be optional,” Hochul said at a news conference, citing recent revised guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We have to restore some normalcy to our lives…. Masks are encouraged but optional.”

New York first adopted the mandate in April 2020 as COVID-19 was rampaging in the New York City area.

“It’s always been a visible reminder that something is not normal here, and it was there for the right reason. It protected health and now we’re in a far different place,” Hochul said.

In April, the Biden administration decided to no longer enforce a U.S. mask mandate on public transportation after a federal judge in Florida ruled the directive was unlawful. New York declined to adopt the Biden policy in April.

In recent months, however, many riders in New York had stopped observing the mask policy.

Hochul said masks will still be required in some places like adult care facilities and some other medical facilities.

The Justice Department appealed the Florida judge’s ruling invalidating the transportation mask mandate, but a federal appeals court has not yet set the case for oral arguments.

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