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Key Words: NYC ends COVID vaccine and mask mandates: ‘It’s time to open our city’

New York City Mayor Eric Adams says it’s OK to put the masks and vaccine cards away.

“It’s time to open our city and get the economy back up and operating,” Adams said on Friday as he unveiled new COVID-19 policies that will go into effect on Monday, March 7.

No longer will New Yorkers (or visitors to the city) be required to show proof of COVID vaccination to gain entrance for indoor activities, including dining at restaurants. In addition, children will no longer be required to wear masks in school — which means that the largest school district in the country with more than 1 million students is officially dropping its mask mandate.

““It’s time to open our city and get the economy back up and operating.” ”

— New York City Mayor Eric Adams on his decision to rescind COVID-19 restrictions

New York becomes the latest locale to put an end to some of the key COVID-19 mandates that have defined life during the pandemic era. Last week, three western states — California, Oregon and Washington — announced they would no longer require masks in schools starting later in March, for example.

Coronavirus Update: Some cities and counties re-evaluate mask rules based on weekly CDC data

The announcement from New York’s mayor was expected. Adams has said before that doing away with the restrictions is a necessary step to boosting the city’s economy, which has been badly affected by the pandemic due to the decline in tourism and the switch to remote work at many companies.

“When we take off the mask, we’re going to start to show that we’re open,” Adams said in an interview with CNBC. “It’s just a symbol that we are back.”

The mayor also signaled his get-back-to-business stance by ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange a week ago.

During the early days of the pandemic in the spring of 2020, New York City became the nation’s COVID-19 epicenter, with daily death totals topping 700. Now, the city is averaging fewer than 20 deaths per day.

Still, some have cautioned it may be too soon to end pandemic restrictions.

Writing in the New York Daily News, Dr. Jay Varna, who served as a pandemic adviser to former Mayor Bill de Blasio, argued in favor of maintaining the current COVID-19 protocols.

“We have no way to predict what the virus will do next. It may mutate into a strain that’s more infectious, more lethal, and/or more likely to cause ‘long COVID,’” Varma wrote in an op-ed piece.

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