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As Hochul Lifts Mask Mandate, Focus Shifts to Schools

In New York City, for example, proof of vaccination is required to dine indoors, attend events at arenas, work out at gyms and go to the movies. That requirement has been in place through a program known as “Key to N.Y.C.,” which was implemented through an executive order from the mayor. The order has been renewed every five days, most recently on Tuesday.

Officials in Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania have all announced that they would end mask requirements for students and school employees over the coming weeks, underscoring an intentional shift by officials to begin treating the virus as a part of daily life nearly two years into the pandemic.

The cascade of recent mask announcements seemed to stem from conversations that took place within the National Governors Association and a recent meeting with the White House. Follow-up calls last week between the chiefs of staff of various governors, including Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey, the vice chairman of the association, created additional momentum.

On Monday, Mr. Murphy, a Democrat, announced that he would eliminate the state’s school mask mandate in the second week of March. Democratic leaders in other states followed suit: Connecticut said its in-school mask mandate would expire by Feb. 28, and Delaware and Oregon will both end their mandates by March 31.

The details of mask mandates, and the politics around them, have varied from state to state.

New Jersey, for example, has not had an indoor mask mandate since Memorial Day; there are no vaccination-to-enter requirements at gyms or restaurants, except in Newark, which has imposed stricter restrictions than the rest of the state.

The move in New York — where more than 67,000 people have died from the coronavirus — comes as the state’s seven-day average of cases has dropped to its lowest level since Nov. 30, with hospitalizations also on the decline.

The virus-related restrictions in New York have ebbed and flowed over the past year as officials tinkered with and rejiggered mandates in response to case numbers.

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