Mayor Eric Adams announced Friday morning the end of school facemask and vaccination passport mandates throughout New York City, one of the places with the most restrictive COVID-19 protocols in the U.S., according to the Associated Press (AP). 

The mayor’s decision comes after state Gov. Kathy Hochul earlier this week lifted the mask mandate for all state schools, citing a sharp drop in COVID-19 cases.

As of Monday, children in K-12 schools administered by the New York City Department of Education will no longer be required to wear masks indoors.

Although masks will still be required for educational institutions with children under the age of 5, as Adams noted, this age group is eligible for vaccination.

The move in New York City schools was welcomed by the teachers’ union.

“Our doctors agree with the city’s medical experts that this is the right time to safely move from a mask mandate to an optional mask system,” United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said in a statement, according to ABC News.

In addition, citizens of the Big Apple will no longer need to present proof of vaccination to dine at restaurants or attend entertainment, sports and cultural venues, as the mayor also ended the “Key2NYC” policy.

The Key2NYC program required both New Yorkers and tourists to show proof of vaccination for all of the above public venues.

The end of the local mandates will go into effect as of Monday, although masks will still be mandatory on public transportation, geriatrics and in health care settings.

In addition, the rule requiring private employers to ensure their workers are vaccinated will prevail, AP said.

“It’s time to open our city,” the mayor noted, claiming of New York. 

“We’re far from out of the woods. COVID is still here. But we are beating it back,” Adams said Friday, imploring New Yorkers to “go out this weekend and go dine.” 

Several of the states that had tougher COVID-19 restrictions are relaxing their school facemask mandates. Meanwhile, other states were critical early on of its use in schools. 

Florida also says ‘no’ to mandates

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis even blocked mandatory facemasks for students and signed an order to withhold his state funds if the state’s school districts disobeyed his directive.

DeSantis made headlines this week for asking some students to remove their masks, claiming they weren’t necessary, that they did nothing. 

“You do not have to wear those masks. Please take them off. Honestly, it’s not doing anything. We’ve gotta stop with this Covid theater. So if you wanna wear it, fine, but this is ridiculous,” she said.

DeSantis received several negative comments from people critical of his policies, however his spokeswoman came to his defense and tweeted:

“I mean, someone had to say it, after 2 years of propaganda that terrified and manipulated young people. Breathe free, feel safe and be happy.”

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