New York City’s mask mandate for children under 5 will remain in place on Monday, an appeals court ruled, pausing a decision from a Staten Island judge who struck it down earlier on Friday.
“Every decision we make is with our children’s health and safety in mind,” Mayor Eric Adams tweeted. “Children between 2 and 4 should continue to wear their masks in school and daycare come Monday.”
The Friday night stay from an appellate judge paves the way for the mayor to continue enforcing the mask requirement in day care and pre-K settings amid rising COVID cases across the city. Children under 5 are the only age group not eligible to be vaccinated, and they remain the only students subject to mask mandates, as the city removed the requirement for those in K-12 schools on March 7.
Adams previously hoped to lift the mask mandate for the city’s youngest children on Monday if virus cases stayed low. But on Friday, he said he was heeding advice from public health advisors and would wait at least another week.
That move was briefly in doubt after a state court judge ruled the mask mandate for children under was “void and unenforceable.” The city’s lawyers promptly challenged the ruling and convinced an appeals court to reinstate the mandate while the case winds its way through the courts.
Adams has generally leaned toward removing virus protection measures, including for bars, restaurants and gyms, so his move to keep children under 5 masked is notable. Many parents of younger children have urged the mayor to allow their children to go mask-free.
Officials said they don’t plan to reinstate the mask mandate for students in grades K-12 despite the rise in cases, including among public school students and staff, but the city’s health commissioner, Dr. Ashwin Vasan said it was his “strong recommendation” that people of all ages wear masks indoors for now “according to their level of comfort.”
Adams urged calm on Friday and characterized the uptick in virus cases as “slight.” He indicated the city would continue to monitor the situation and “update New Yorkers in a week.”
“We want to be prepared, not panic,” he said.
Christina Veiga contributed.