Opinion | How to Lead New York Into the Next Phase of Covid-19

By The Editorial Board

The editorial board is a group of opinion journalists whose views are informed by expertise, research, debate and certain longstanding values. It is separate from the newsroom.

New York City, one of the nation’s first epicenters of the coronavirus pandemic, is on the cusp of stepping into the next hopeful chapter of this crisis, and Mayor Eric Adams is leading the way. On Sunday, Mr. Adams announced that he would eliminate school mask mandates and vaccine requirements for restaurants, gyms and movie theaters by next Monday, as long as case numbers remain low.

As with so many pandemic policies, these moves are likely to please as many people as they infuriate. But with full vaccination rates in the city at 78 percent and the latest surge clearly passed, this is the right time to lift the requirement for masks in schools. It’s a lot to ask young children to wear masks for several hours a day, especially when so many adults seem to struggle with it.

The vaccine requirements, which have been a cornerstone of business reopenings in so much of the city, are harder to justify parting with. They have added an extra layer of protection to indoor activities, which are inherently riskier; they have not been burdensome, and have probably nudged many reluctant people, including tourists, to get vaccinated. More important, requiring vaccines in these settings helps protect vulnerable groups who may feel unsafe dining out or going to the theater, and essential workers, who have no choice but to interact with the public.

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