This easing of restrictions is also a response to an increasingly pandemic-weary public, occurring at a time when northern neighbour, Canada, is battling trucker-led protests against Covid rules, which have paralysed its capital, Ottawa. Photograph:( Reuters )
As the country gears up for key midterm elections later this year that could shape Joe Biden's second half of presidency, masks remain a hot political issue in the United States
New York has become the latest Democratic-run state to roll back its protective mask law, as health officials increasingly talk about America moving towards a phase where COVID-19 doesn't disrupt daily lives.
As the country gears up for key midterm elections later this year that could shape Joe Biden's second half of presidency, masks remain a hot political issue in the United States.
Democrats have led the enforcement of mask mandates, while Republican-led states such as Texas and Florida have gone as far as banning the mandatory wearing of face coverings.
Citing a 96 per cent decline in the number of reported infections since early January, New York governor Kathy Hochul announced that she would not renew an indoor mask mandate for businesses when it expires on Thursday.
Rather, it will be up to each city and business to decide whether to require masks. Hochul however, added that face coverings in schools would remain compulsory until she reviews it next month.
Hochul said the state was "trending in a very, very good direction."
"That is why we are now approaching a new phase in this pandemic," she told reporters. Broadway said it would require masks inside all theatres until April 30.
Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker said masks would no longer be required indoors in most public places by February 28; schools will, however, remain subject to the rule.
As Coronavirus infections fall in the US, several states announced plans Monday to lift mask requirements in indoor places and schools.
This easing of restrictions is also a response to an increasingly pandemic-weary public, occurring at a time when northern neighbour, Canada, is battling trucker-led protests against Covid rules, which have paralysed its capital, Ottawa.
Governor Gavin Newsom recently announced that vaccinated residents of California will no longer be required to wear masks indoors as of February 15. However, unvaccinated residents will be required to do so.
The mask requirement in Oregon will be lifted no later than March 31, and the mask requirement in Delaware will end on Friday, with mask usage in classrooms ending by March 31.
Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey led the rollbacks, announcing that children and staff would no longer need to wear masks in schools starting March 7.
Connecticut followed suit, with Ned Lamont saying that he was recommending that schools stop wearing masks after February 28.
In addition, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced Wednesday that his state's mask requirement for schools will end on February 28.
Watch | Canada truckers' protest against COVID mandates enters the second week
School boards still have the option of requiring masks if they so desire despite the lifting of the mandates.
With these changes, a shift is taking place towards learning to live with COVID-19 on an everyday basis.
CDC officials still mandate face masks at federal buildings, train stations, airports and airport terminals. However, its officials are upping their rhetoric about normalizing life.
"We're moving toward a time when Covid won't disrupt our daily lives. A time when Covid won't be a constant crisis, but rather will be something we can protect against and treat," White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said Wednesday.
(With inputs from agencies)