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Masks now optional on New York City subways and other public transit


CNN Staff

If you’re planning to travel to New York City, here’s what you’ll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The latest news

New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Wednesday, September 7, that face masks are now optional in multiple settings where they were previously required, according to a news release from the Governor’s Office.

For tourists visiting New York City, that includes:

• Public transportation (such as subways and buses)
• For-hire vehicles (such as taxis, limos and Uber rides)
• Airports

The loosening of transportation measures comes as Hochul also announced the availability of bivalent Covid-19 vaccine boosters, designed to add Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants and bolster previous vaccination protection.

The basics

The operators of Broadway venues now allow theatergoers to go mask optional, the Broadway League says.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has lifted its requirement for travelers to test negative for Covid-19 before entering the United States.

The city’s Key to NYC requirements were lifted on March 7.

Proof of vaccination is no longer required for patrons of the city’s indoor dining, fitness and entertainment venues.

While the CDC still recommends everyone 2 and older wear a well-fitting mask on public transportation, masks are currently not required on airplanes, trains and other means of public transit.

What’s on offer

This is the ultimate city break. New York has the greatest city skyline in the world; culture from the Guggenheim to MoMA; spectacular food from Chinese delicacies in Flushing to Italian delights in the Bronx; and the green sweep of Central Park to the busy Lower East Side.

Who can go

Fully vaccinated travelers from abroad (meaning people who are not US citizens or lawful permanent residents) are allowed entry into the United States, including New York City.

US citizens or lawful permanent residents do not need vaccines to return to the United States.

New York doesn’t have any restrictions on domestic travelers.

What are the restrictions?

Unvaccinated travelers from abroad are no longer allowed to enter the United States, with limited exceptions. Among those exceptions are unvaccinated children younger than 18.

The state of New York’s travel advisory expired in June 2021, and travelers no longer have to submit traveler health forms. The state still encourages all travelers to follow CDC guidance.

What’s the Covid situation?

Despite the newest relaxation of rules, New York City’s Covid alert system notes there are still high Covid-19 transmission levels in the city. Though optional, visitors and residents are still advised to:

• Wear a high-quality mask in all public indoor settings and around crowds outside
• Stay up-to-date on vaccinations
• Test before and after travel or gatherings.

As of September 7, more than 41,650 total confirmed and probable deaths and almost 2.83 million total confirmed or probable cases were registered since the pandemic began. The test positivity rate for the city has been decreasing, now at 8.7% in the past seven days

What can visitors expect?

Despite the Broadway mask-optional update, owners and operators will still encourage audience members to wear masks in all of its 41 Broadway theaters.

Masking protocols will be decided on a month-to-month basis as the league continues to monitor the science, the Broadway League said.

Restaurants, movie theaters and other venues are open. The Key to NYC policy — allowing indoor access only to vaccinated patrons — expired in March.

Click here to get locations for rapid Covid-19 testing in all five boroughs.

Useful links

New York State Covid-19 microsite

CDC Travel Health

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Forrest Brown, Marnie Hunter, Joe Minihane, Julia Buckley and Richard Davis have contributed to this report.

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