New York City Mayor Eric Adams prepares to remove masks for children under 5 at school
NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams is preparing to remove the requirement for children under the age of five to wear masks at school.
Adams said Tuesday that he will make masks optional for people in day-care and prekindergarten from April 4 if the case rate and risk of spreading the virus are low.
“We want to see our children’s faces,” Adams said.
City officials say they will lift the order if the trend continues. They said the case rates were just a factor they were looking at and did not specify which positivity rates or which thresholds of other metrics would cause them to reconsider.
The Democratic mayor lifted a number of epidemic-related rules two weeks ago, including that students 5 years of age or older have been wearing school masks since the epidemic began. The mayor has laid down the rule for young children who are not eligible to be vaccinated.
Adams recently returned rules requiring people to show proof of being vaccinated for eating at a restaurant, exercising in the gym, or attending a show or other event. The move comes amid pressure from the mayor and his opponents across the country to return to normalcy amid a sharp drop in coronavirus cases and deaths.
Adams has so far decided to introduce a rule that would require private employers to ensure that their employees are vaccinated. The rule is that the Brooklyn Nets guard Kiri Irving is not allowed to play home games with the team. Irving is vaccinated and is currently allowed to watch home games as a spectator but cannot play or stay in the locker room.
The rules also apply to the Yankees and the Mets, who may be out of the game for the undefeated players in the upcoming season.
Adams did not say Tuesday that he was considering lifting the rules, but said he was peeling the rules one by one to see the impact of each change.
“They’ll have to wait,” Adams said of the sports team.
Infection rates in New York City have been rising again recently, up 50% last week. It is now generating more than 950 new cases per day, comparable to the daily average in early November before the omicron wave began.
City Health Commissioner Ashwin Bhasan said the number of cases has increased in recent days and officials will monitor the trends for the next two weeks before deciding to lift the rule.
Officials are closely monitoring the strain of a more contagious Omicron subvariant known as BA.2 and expect to see some growing cases, Bhasan said.
City officials say if the level of risk exceeds their current low, the city will re-issue the order.