New York Implements Indoor Mask Mandate Ahead of the Holidays
New York instituted a statewide vaccine or mask mandate on Friday just as the Big Apple and destinations around the state gear up to welcome tourists for the holiday season.
Starting Monday, the state's Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that masks or proof of vaccination will be required in all indoor businesses and public spaces. The mandate, which will remain in place through at least Jan. 15, will be enforced statewide, including in New York City.
The mandate will apply to both customers and employees, the governor's office noted.
"I share New Yorkers' frustration that we are not past this pandemic, but the winter surge is here & we must take action," Hochul tweeted. "My two top priorities are to protect the health of New Yorkers and to protect the health of our economy. The measures I'm announcing today will help accomplish this through the holiday season."
The new measures come as New York saw more than 68,000 new COVID-19 cases statewide in the seven-day period that ended Wednesday, The Associated Press reported, more than any week since the start of February.
Cases are also increasing in New York City, which has required proof of vaccination to enter indoor spaces like restaurants since the summer, but the daily average percent of positive tests over the last 28 days remains at 3%, according to the city's health department. In the city, the delta variant accounts for about 98% of cases.
"I have warned for weeks that additional steps could be necessary, and now we are at that point based upon three metrics: Increasing cases, reduced hospital capacity, and insufficient vaccination rates in certain areas," Hochul said in a statement.
Hochul's decision comes as tourists are expected to pour into the Big Apple for the holiday season to experience classics like the Rockettes' Radio City Christmas Spectacular, ice skating in Central Park, and luxury Christmas shopping. This year, Times Square will also once again welcome in-person revelers for the New Year's Eve ball drop where Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted they will need to show proof of vaccination to enter.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.