The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is now advising residents to wear masks when indoors, citing the rise in community infections and the high COVID-19 alert level the city transitioned to on Tuesday.
The advisory issued by the city advises that all residents, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks when indoors and in public settings. These include offices and stores as well as common areas such as elevators and hallways.
High-risk groups including people over 65 and individuals who are still unvaccinated or cannot get the shot — such as children under 5 — are advised to take additional precautions. The department advised that people in these high-risk groups wear masks at all times when in public indoor settings and crowded outdoor settings and also advised that nonessential gatherings be avoided.
The advisory is not the same as a mask mandate. The department added that the advisory does not apply in situations where an activity cannot be done while wearing a mask, such as eating, playing a sport or delivering a speech.
Ashwin Vasan, commissioner of the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said on Twitter Tuesday, “New York City has transitioned to a high COVID alert level, meaning now is the time to double down on protecting ourselves and each other by making choices that can keep our friends, neighbors, relatives and coworkers from getting sick.”
“Getting back to Low Risk depends on everyone doing their part and if we follow guidance, our forecasts anticipate this wave’s peak will not last long. What we do now can make all the difference,” Vasan added.