Gov. Hochul says New York has made "tremendous progress" in the battle with COVID. She issued new COVID rules and says we have entered a "new phase."

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul officially lifted New York's mask mandate during a press conference in New York City Wednesday afternoon.

Hochul's decision didn't come as a surprise as several media outlets reported Hochul would end the mask mandate when she spoke on Wednesday.

Effective Thursday, people won't be required to wear a mask indoors in New York.

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Effective Thursday, people won't be required to wear a mask indoors in New York.

“Given the declining cases, given the declining hospitalizations, that is why we feel comfortable to lift this, in effect tomorrow,” Hochul said.

COVID Fight Not Over

Hochul does warn the battle with COVID is still far from over.

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“Given the declining cases, given the declining hospitalizations, that is why we feel comfortable to lift this, in effect tomorrow,” Hochul said.

“This fight is not over, we’re not surrendering. This is not disarmament, but again the trends are very, very positive," Hochul added.

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Hochul does warn the battle with COVID is still far from over.

Despite the mask mandate being lifted, Hochul did say she can reinstate a mandate if COVID numbers start to increase.

"I will always, always retain the flexibility to retain the judgment if necessary," she said.

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Mask Wearing Not Over

Masks must still be worn on buses and trains as well as inside prisons, state-regulated care settings and homeless shelters.

"I want people to know this pandemic is not over," Hochul said.

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Despite the mask mandate being lifted, Hochul did say she can reinstate a mandate if COVID numbers start to increase.

Local governments and private businesses can still put their own mask rules in place, Hochul reminded New Yorker on Wednesday.

"Individuals who continue to want to wear masks can continue to wear masks," she added.

Masking in Schools

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Students and educators must continue to mask up. For now.

Hochul announced she will revisit mask-wearing in schools during the first week of March.

"I spoke with teachers, superintendents and parent representatives yesterday about keeping schools safe and open," Hochul said. "We’re getting tests out so kids can come back safely from Midwinter break, and I expect to make an assessment on masks based on the data in early March."

A number of schools go on winter break in late February and Hochul wants to analyze data from schools after the break.

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Hochul announced she will revisit mask-wearing in schools during the first week of March.

“After the break, after we have kids tested, we’re going to make an assessment in the first week of March,” Hochul said.

Tremendous Progress 

Hochul decided to lift the mask-or-vaccine requirement for indoor businesses because she says New York has made "tremendous progress" since the mandate was issued in December.

"Looking at the seven-day average of cases per 100,000 New Yorkers, we see: - December 10 (the day we instituted our statewide mask-or-vaccine protocol): 51 per 100,000 - January 9 (peak): Nearly 382 per 100,000 - Today: Under 35 per 100,000," Hochul tweeted.

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Hochul believes New York is in a "new phase" in the ongoing COVID battle.

"We are not where we were in early December. New Yorkers did the right thing to get through the winter surge, and we can now lift the statewide mask-or-vaccine requirement for indoor businesses starting tomorrow," she said. "Counties, cities and businesses can still choose to require masks."

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