Mayor Eric Adams on Monday said removing mask mandates in public schools was a broader sign that the city is moving toward a full economic reopening.
“When we take off the mask, we’re going to start to show that we’re open,” Adams said during an interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box. “It’s just a symbol that we are back.”
His remarks come a day after announcing that he would lift mask mandates in public schools beginning Monday, March 7, barring any increases in coronavirus cases. The Key to NYC program — which requires vaccination for customers of restaurants, gyms and cultural and entertainment venues — will also sunset on the same date. Adams said all other vaccine mandates remain in place, including the one for private employees that was established in the final days of Bill de Blasio’s administration and calls for proof of full vaccination.
Adams’ decision came shortly after Gov. Kathy Hochul said the statewide mask mandate for schools would be lifted on March 2 and effectively recommended that counties make their own decisions for their school districts. Mask requirements remain in place for hospitals, nursing homes and other health care settings, as well as on public transit.
Adams, who started his day by ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange, has been imploring businesses to summon their employees back to office. He said the decision to end some of the pandemic-era restrictions should prompt companies to expand the number of days they are requiring employees to show up in person.
Pressed on whether there has been a “seminal” shift in the way people work, Adams acknowledged that possibility but argued he could counter the reluctance to return to the office by making the subways safer and the city more attractive.
“If I bring about the safety that’s needed, and show the excitement of being back in the city, bringing tourism back to join the office atmosphere, New Yorkers are going to come back and be part of the economy,” Adams said. Earlier this month, he and Hochul unveiled a plan to reduce crime in the subways as a way of increasing ridership.
But data suggests that some outer borough neighborhoods have flourished amid the pandemic and the prevalence of those working from home. In September, the New York Times reported that Brooklyn saw an influx of residents and smaller employers.