Also, Hochul said masks will continue to be required for health care facilities, nursing homes, correctional facilities and on public transportation.
In addition, local governments and businesses are allowed to require masks or proof of vaccination, a standard that Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said he intends to follow for the time being.
Hochul had put the indoor mask mandate into effect two months ago in anticipation of a winter surge, similar to what happened during the first winter of the pandemic.
This winter’s surge ended up being even more pronounced.
Two variants of Covid – Delta and Omicron – were to blame as it became clear that vaccines couldn’t stop their spread, although they helped prevent hospitalizations and deaths.
The Omicron variant spread especially fast through New York. The first case of the variant was confirmed on Dec. 1. By Jan. 7, 2022, at what would be the peak of the Omicron wave, more than 90,000 people in New York State tested positive for Covid on that day. In comparison, at the height of the previous winter, just under 20,000 people tested positive in a day.
But Omicron turned out to be less lethal and put a lower rate of people in the hospital. It also appears to be disappearing quickly; on Feb. 9, the state recorded just over 6,000 new positive cases.