Gov. Kathy Hochul announced new COVID rules and proudly proclaimed "a new normal starts today."

On Wednesday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul received her COVID-19 booster aimed at the Omicron variant of COVID and updated mask guidelines across New York State.

Hochul Masks Now Optional In Most Settings In New York

Don Pollard
Don Pollard

Governor Hochul is immediately lifting the mask mandate in several spaces across New York State.

"We'll be talking about a new normal starting today. Department of Health will be issuing new guidance regarding masks based on the CDC guidance, and starting today, masks will be optional," Hochul said.

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Lifts Mask Mandate For Public Transportation

New York Governor Hochul Tours The Ongoing 2nd Avenue Subway Project In NYC
Getty Images

Hochul announced that masking is now optional in multiple settings where they were previously required, including on public transportation. Yellow signs will be placed at transit hubs to remind New Yorkers masks are now optional and to respect others if they choose to wear a mask.

"What that means is you choose not to have a mask that is your personal decision. You'll do your own personal risk assessment of who you're exposed to, your own vulnerabilities, where you work. You make your own determination, but do not judge your fellow passengers on what their choices are. Let's be respectful," Hochul said.

Mask Mandate Lifted

Masks are also no longer required in for-hire vehicles, at airports, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, and detention centers.

While mask wearing is no longer required it's still "encouraged" in all of the settings.

"Masks are encouraged, but optional," Hochul said. "I still expect that we'll see many people (wearing masks) on the trains and subways and walking down the streets. That is their choice. We encourage them to do that. So these are encouraged but optional."

Masks Still Required In New York In These Settings

Michele Ursi
Michele Ursi

Masks will continue to be required at adult care and health care facilities regulated by the state Department of Health, and in clinical settings regulated by the Office of Mental Health, Office of Addiction Services and Supports, and Office for People With Developmental Disabilities.

New COVID Boosters Available in New York

Hochul also announced the availability of bivalent COVID-19 vaccine boosters. These shots are designed to add Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants and bolster previous vaccination protection, officials say.

Don Pollard
Don Pollard

Hochul received her booster on Wednesday.

"With the updated boosters available this week, I urge all New Yorkers to take steps to better protect themselves against COVID-19," Governor Hochul said. "Take advantage of the latest tools and resources at our disposal in order to keep our families and our communities safe. Test before gatherings or travel and if you test positive, talk to your doctor about potential treatment options."

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