New York Officials Strongly Recommend Wearing Masks in Restaurants, Amongst Other High-Risk Indoor Settings

August 4, 2021

Photo courtesy of New York Daily News

An uptick in positive Covid-19 cases, largely due to the Delta variant, has pushed leading New York City and state officials to update their positions on the present and future of public health safety. 

Key Statistics: 

  • As of the end of last month, the test positivity rate was almost 3% on a 7-day average in New York City. This is the latest in a steady incline in case counts over the past month. 
  • Out of all tested cases in the past month, 72% were found to be the Delta variant. 

Which officials have spoken out: 

NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi 

At a press conference this morning, Dr. Chokshi stated that he is “making a strong recommendation that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask in public indoor settings.” He based his new recommendation on the fact that “the latest scientific evidence shows that the Delta variant can spread even more easily than previously thought;” here, he is referencing the discovery that the Delta variant causes more severe illness and spreads as easily as chickenpox, which was outlined in a leaked internal document from the CDC. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio

Mayor de Blasio is also taking the same position as Dr. Chokshi, stating that it would be a “better situation if fully vaccinated people commingled in public settings with other vaccinated people, but if you’re not sure, and that’s going to be many cases, we want to strongly recommend that people wear those masks indoors even if vaccinated.” Although many are confused as to why the Mayor did not implement a mask mandate, given the severity of the situation, de Blasio stated that the city only implemented a mask recommendation “because we thought this was the right balance.” 

Masks aside, Mayor de Blasio did reaffirm that “mask wearing is not a substitute for vaccination.” This comes after the Mayor announced that all city workers must either get vaccinated or submit weekly testing by mid-September and all Broadway attendees will need to show proof of vaccination and wear masks at performances.  

Governor Andrew Cuomo

Also at a press conference this morning, Governor Cuomo offered a firmer stance on the topic, calling on all private business owners in New York to “go to vaccine-only admission.” He supported this suggestion by stating that “a mask policy will be important, but I don’t believe that a mask policy is going to be enough… I think we’re going to have to talk about a vaccination policy.” He additionally suggested that nursing home workers, teachers, and all public-facing healthcare workers should be required to get vaccinated if numbers continue to rise. 

This comes after the Governor announced that all MTA and New York Port Authority employees will be required to get vaccinated or be tested weekly starting on Labor Day. 

Aside from these top officials, many individual restaurant owners and companies have already taken it upon themselves to make the necessary changes. A long list of restaurants – including Frenchette, Estela and Altro Paradiso, Dame, Llama Inn, Joseph Leonard, Forsythia, Yellow Rose, and, most recently, Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group – have all instated proof of vaccination requirements for customers just this past week. Aside from requirements, some restaurants, such as Ruffian and Kindred, are shutting down completely until cases substantially decrease.

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