All individuals, regardless of vaccination status or past COVID-19 infection, should wear a mask at all times when indoors and in a public setting, including at groceries, building lobbies, offices, stores, and other common or shared spaces where individuals may interact such as restrooms, hallways, elevators, and meeting rooms. This is particularly important in settings with people who may not be vaccinated or consistently wear masks, or where ventilation is poor. This advisory applies to all individuals in New York City over the age of two years who can medically tolerate wearing a mask.
All masks should cover the nose and the mouth and rest snugly above the nose, below the mouth, and on the sides of the face. Higher-quality masks, such as KN95 and KF94 masks and N95 respirators, can offer an additional layer of protection. Wearing a cloth mask over a disposable mask and knotting the ear loops to tighten masks are additional techniques to improve fit and protection.
Those who are at high risk of severe illness, are over 65, or are unvaccinated including children under the age of five who are not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine should take additional precautions. These groups are at increased risk of hospitalization, severe illness, and possible long-term complications, and should always wear a mask in public indoor settings and crowded outdoor settings. Avoid crowded settings and non-essential gatherings, particularly if indoors.
In addition, the impact of COVID-19 transmission is higher in settings with a high number of unvaccinated people; these include childcare facilities given that children under the age of five are not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Even though COVID-19 is generally less dangerous for children, it can result in hospitalization, as well as Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), long COVID, and possibly other long-term complications - which can occur even with only mild infection, including in children.
The mask advisory does not apply in cases where an individual is actively performing an activity that cannot be done while wearing a face mask such as actively eating or drinking; is practicing or playing a competitive sport in the New York City Public School Athletic League or on a professional level; or is performing, including but not limited to playing music, delivering a speech to an audience seated at least six feet away, and acting in a theater.