Mayor De Blasio reinstates mask advisory as NYC braces for Omicron variant

On Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio urged every resident of the city to start wearing face coverings again in all indoor public spaces. City health officials are currently preparing for the arrival of the omicron variant on U.S. soil.

“It’s time to remind people and double down and say, ‘Even if you started to move away from masks before, we’re telling you to get those masks back on now,’” de Blasio said at a press briefing from City Hall.

City Health Commissioner David Chokshi added that the reinstituted advisory includes even fully vaccinated people and those with natural immunity.

“Today I’m issuing a commissioner’s advisory strongly recommending that all New Yorkers wear a mask at all times when indoors and in a public setting like at your grocery or in building lobbies, offices, and retail stores,” Chokshi said, adding, “This includes those that are vaccinated and those who’ve had COVID-19.” 

The advisory is similar to one released by the city in August to confront the rise of the delta variant, but was bashed by some local business leaders. Kathy Wylde, the head of the Big Apple’s top business group, the Partnership for New York City, has been frustrated by the city’s messaging.

“They’re sending mixed messages when they ask for people to come back, but on the other hand say that you should wear masks in the office,” she said. “Taking time to understand the impact of the omicron is important because we just had too many stops and starts on the COVID protocols.” 

Chokshi added that it is only a matter of time before the new variant makes its way to New York: “We do anticipate detecting omicron in New York in the coming days based upon what we know about its global spread,” he noted.

De Blasio also on Monday extended the vaccine requirement for city-funded child care workers to include all staff at day cares in the city, which he said has been in the works but was accelerated by the emergence of the omicron variant. All 102,000 of the employees in that category must now get the shot by December 20. 




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