NEW YORK (WABC) – Several COVID-19 security protocols will be suspended in New York on Monday, including mandatory masks in public schools and vaccination requirements in restaurants, entertainment and cultural venues.

Mayor Eric Adams made an announcement in Times Square on Friday, saying that although the pandemic is not over yet, he is confident it is now safe to send children and teachers to school without a mask.

“We are far from the forest,” he said. “COVID is still here. But we’re beating it off.”

He said it was time for New Yorkers to “celebrate” and asked them to “go out this weekend and have lunch”.

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On the same day, the city’s Department of Health announced that it estimated the COVID-19 vaccination campaign in the city had prevented 48,000 deaths, 300,000 hospitalizations and 1.9 million cases since December 2020, according to Yale University epidemiologists.

“The COVID-19 vaccine has saved so many lives and prevented a huge amount of suffering,” said Health Commissioner Dr Dave Chokshi. “Nearly 48,000 New Yorkers will celebrate another birthday this year thanks to the power of vaccination.”

The simulation shows that tens of thousands more could have been killed without vaccination against COVID-19.

Some businesses still decide to keep the mandates if they want, but from Monday the city will no longer require checking guest vaccination cards.

“New York’s restaurant and nightlife industry has been devastated by COVID-19, and over the past two years these small businesses have endured ever-changing pandemic mandates that posed significant challenges to their operations but they fought hard to survive and feed and serve our a city in this time of crisis, ”said NYC Hospitality Alliance Executive Director Andrew Riga. “Now that our city has a high level of vaccination, a low level of infection, and as we enter the next phase of rebuilding our city, we must continue to be safe and smart and change mandates as the situation progresses. That is why it is optimistic and careful the view of many is that we stand in solidarity with our Mayor Eric Adams, health officials and community leaders to repeal the city’s temporary proof of vaccination for indoor lunches as an important step in revitalizing our sustainable city. ”

Adams paid tribute to Dr. Choksha for remaining the city’s health commissioner until a new health commissioner, Ashwin Wasan, takes office. He also thanked all those who responded quickly for their work during the pandemic.

Adams said the level of COVID infection in the city had dropped by 1.8%, and more than 17 million doses of the vaccine had been introduced in the city.

“Two years ago, New York City was the epicenter of a pandemic, but thanks to the people of New York City getting vaccinated and getting stronger, we’ve made tremendous progress,” Adams said. “I’ve said over and over again that numbers and science will guide us as we continue to recover and recover, and now New York is back, and vaccinations are why we’re back. New Yorkers need to go out and enjoy our an amazing city. Maybe the fight is not over, but we are clearly winning the war. We are open to business and New York is back. “

Beginning Monday, March 7:
–Key2NYC rules will be suspended. Indoors, including restaurants, gyms and entertainment venues, will no longer need to be tested for vaccinations before customers enter. Companies previously covered by Key2NYC rules will still be able to require evidence of vaccinations or indoor masks if they wish.

– Masks for 12th graders will no longer need masks on the territory of public schools. While these public school children will be able to remove masks if they wish, schools will continue to maintain strict COVID-19 protocols, including increased ventilation, daily check-ups to ensure those with symptoms do not come to school, and a set for distribution tests. Masks will still be required for all institutions with children under the age of 5 (where no one is yet eligible for the vaccine), including in programs for which the New York Department of Education is contracting 3- and 4- year-old children, as well as 3k and 4k classes in area schools.

“Our doctors agree with the city’s medical experts that this is the right time to safely move from a mask mandate to an additional mask system,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “Both tests at home and random tests at school did not show a jump after the holidays and showed an infection rate of less than 1%. This is a responsible, thoughtful way to make the next transition. However, we will continue our testing program – both at school and at home – to make sure we stay on track. “

Adams said that intervals continue in schools and he is not ready to cancel masks for children under 5 because they are not vaccinated.

“If you looked at those under 5, they were more likely to be hospitalized,” Adams said. “People wanted to say, let’s raise this all over. But that’s not what science tells us.”

Adams also announced that all other COVID-19 mandates will remain in force. According to the rules, employees should still be vaccinated if they have not received a reasonable device from their employer.

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Broadway theaters have announced they will continue to demand masks in March and are re-evaluating them in early April

“Our current guidelines are valid until April 30, and we plan to update these instructions on April 1,” said Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin. “Our protocols are discussed weekly, and so far our instructions have not changed. We will, of course, let you know if they change.”

In addition, Adams has released a new color-coded system that tracks alerts about COVID-19 and informs New Yorkers about the risks they face.

The system consists of four levels of alerts that define precautions and recommended actions for individuals and government based on the CDC community load indicator.

“Our new COVID warning system gives New Yorkers a roadmap on how to reduce their own risk in the event we see another surge or an increase in transmission,” Dr Chokshi said. “COVID Alert will inform New Yorkers, including the actions to be expected from city officials. Looking to the coming months, we must continue to do our utmost to prevent unnecessary suffering due to COVID-19.”

(Associated Press contributed to this report)

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