Hochul says state mask-or-vaccine mandate extended to Feb. 10


A sign reminds customers that masks are required in this New York store in on Dec. 13. (Seth Wenig/The Associated Press)

NEW YORK (AP) — New York state’s mask mandate that requires face coverings in all indoor public places unless the businesses or venues require COVID-19 vaccinations will be extended until at least Feb. 10, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Friday.

“We’ll have a temporary extension of our business mask or vaccine policy,” Hochul said at a news briefing on Long Island. The Democratic governor said the mandate, first announced Dec. 10, has been “a critical tool” in driving COVID-19 numbers down.

Coronavirus infections spiked in New York around Christmas, thanks to the emergence of the highly infectious omicron variant, but have declined in recent weeks. New reported COVID-19 infections dropped from almost 70,000 a day in New York during the week than ended Jan. 12 to about 20,000 during the week that ended Jan. 26.

Hochul said the mask mandate could be lifted after Feb. 10 if case counts keep declining.

“We’ll be extending that just through Feb. 10,” she said. “Probably a couple days before then we’ll be evaluating. But if we continue on this rapid trend downward we’ll be in a good place. If it levels off or something else happens, I need that flexibility.”

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