The NYS Governor announced the statewide indoor mask mandate will expire Thursday amid receding COVID infection and hospitalization rates.

Face coverings will still be required in schools in the coming weeks as Gov. Kathy Hochul wants to wait until after the mid-winter break to decide on whether she will make changes to that rule. (Feb. 21 expiration date)

Local governments and businesses can continue to keep mask rules if they so choose. 

Masks will still be required at state-regulated facilities, including nursing homes, correctional facilities, homeless shelters, schools, as well as public transit and airports. 

The governor’s mask-or-vaccine mandate started on Dec. 13 requiring people to don face coverings in all public indoor settings except if businesses or venues had a vaccine requirement.

The decision by the governor and the state Department of Health came as the first cases of the more contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19 were detected in New York, fueling a steep rise in cases and hospitalizations over the holidays.

Only 37.5% of that youngest eligible age bracket had at least one dose of the vaccine as of Tuesday, compared to 75.7% for adolescents aged 12-17, and adults at more than 95%.