Pencils down, masks off and can you give me fries with that?

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Mayor Eric Adams ends the mask mandate in Times Square. Photo by Ethan Stark-Miller

Standing at the crossroads of the world, Mayor Eric Adams announced this morning the city would be halting it’s vaccine requirement for indoor businesses and dropping the mask mandate for K-12 public school students. 

“Two years ago, New York City was the epicenter of the pandemic, but thanks to New Yorkers getting vaccinated and getting boosted we have made tremendous progress,” Adams said. “I’ve said time and time again that the numbers and science will guide us as we continue to recover and rebuild, and now New York City is back, and vaccinations are why we’re back. New Yorkers should be getting out and enjoying our amazing city. The fight may not be over, but we’re clearly winning the war. We are open for business and New York City has its groove back.”

Starting Monday, New York City businesses – including restaurants, fitness facilities and entertainment centers – will no longer be required to ask patrons for proof of vaccination at the door, which was under the program known as Key to NYC. However, the mayor said individual businesses will still have the discretion to ask customers about their vaccine status before letting them enter.

“This is about giving people the flexibility as needed to continue to allow not only safety, but we have to get our economy back on track,” Adams said. “It’s time to open our city and get the economy back operating.”

At the same time, Adams said, K-12 students will no longer be required to wear masks in the city’s public schools. But, he added, children under five will still have to wear masks and other school safety protocols for preventing the spread of COVID-19 will remain in place. These include increased ventilation, daily screenings for COVID-19 symptoms and test kit distributions.

Additionally, Adams said, children who want to continue to wear masks will be free to do so.

“We want to see the faces of our children,” Adams said. “We want to see their smiles. We want to see how happy they are. We want to see when they’re feeling sad so that we can be there to comfort them and the masks prevented us from doing so for almost two years.”

The mayor also unveiled a new color-coded alert system to help people better assess COVID-19 risk in the city. The alert levels range from “Low” to “Very High” and each comes with a set of precautions and recommendations for both people and the city government to follow.

“This is a celebratory moment,” Adams said. “We’ve been waiting for this day for so long. And we’re here. So, let’s celebrate the win. Go out this weekend. Go Dine. Go enjoy your family. Go for a walk. Stop and see me at City Hall. We are winning folks.”