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New York state ends COVID mask mandate in health care facilities

Masks no longer required in New York health care facilities
Masks no longer required in New York health care facilities 01:38

NEW YORK -- Another chapter of the pandemic is drawing to a close. Masking in hospitals is no longer mandatory. Instead, the decision will be up to individual operators.

As we approach three years since the pandemic started, one of the last COVID-era mandates is finally ending.

Starting Sunday, masks and face coverings will no longer be required in health care facilities in New York.

"I am delighted that it is not mandatory, that it is optional," said Peter Hayn of the Upper West Side.

"I don't mind that they are lifted because I can keep myself safe," added subway rider Pam Gellen.

READ MORECOVID vaccine mandate for New York City workers ends, unions pushing for back pay

The end of the mandate affects hospitals, nursing homes, and treatment centers. State officials say each facility will be allowed to craft its own policy moving forward.

For New York City Health + Hospitals, it means masking will continue.

As for New York-Presbyterian, a spokesperson said the hospital is still deciding and "reviewing the latest scientific evidence and governmental guidelines."

"That is wonderful that we can go back to some sort of normalcy because it's been very difficult the last few years living a life separate from everybody else," said a man named David from the Upper West Side.

All of these changes come as New York has seen a steady decline in transmission rates of COVID over the last two months.

"Most people now are just getting sniffles from it. They aren't coming down with anything serious anymore," said Anthony Stanhope of the Upper West Side.

On Friday, the city's vaccine mandate for workers also came to an end. Nearly 2,000 city employees who lost their jobs during the pandemic can now reapply.

Labor attorney Jon Bell told CBS2 the fired workers may have a difficult time trying to recoup back pay, even if they are rehired.

"The city of New York is an employer just like a private sector employer, and their laws don't actually have to make sense," said Bell.

"It's preposterous and I definitely never want to see this again. So for me this is a big win but it's not the end of the fight and I personally won't stop fighting until everybody gets the opportunity to get their jobs back and that we have it in writing that this can never happen to us again," said Sophy Medina, a firefighter.

The state has seen a steady decline in COVID transmission rates over the last two months. 

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