The NYC Ferry dropped its requirement that riders wear masks, as did the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission, which oversees taxis and other for-hire vehicles like Uber and Lyft, in the wake of a state decision to end mask mandates in public transit earlier this week.

Uber sent customers a note on Thursday telling them the mask mandate was no longer in effect and the ban on passengers sitting in the front seat had also been lifted.

“Masks are no longer required, but they’re still recommended,” the company wrote in an email.

The Taxi and Limousine Commission dropped its requirement that passengers and drivers wear masks a day earlier.

The changes come in the wake of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s decision to lift mask mandates for public transit riders, one of the nation’s last surviving mask mandates.

While the mandate was still on the books through this week, authorities had mostly halted its enforcement, and compliance from riders had slipped in recent months.

Mask mandates in public transit were struck down at the federal level in April. And following that ruling, ride-share companies Uber and Lyft both lifted their mandates nationally, as did Amtrak, though New York’s local mandate, in place since April 2020, remained in place.

The misaligned guidance from local and federal authorities sparked confusion in mass transit hubs like Penn Station. The station, operated by Amtrak, did not require masks, but many riders were entering or exiting from the subway and the Long Island Rail Road, both overseen by the MTA, which required them.

Following this week’s decision, the MTA released a new ad campaign explaining the latest guidance, characterized by “you do you,” for riders who still wanted to wear masks. The campaign faced pushback from public health experts online.

“We strongly encourage riders to continue to wear masks while inside the main cabin,” the NYC Ferry tweeted on Thursday. “Please respect other riders’ choices.”

COVID-19 cases in New York City are declining, with around 1,800 new cases per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC says deaths are low and flat at about 10 per day, while the state health department shows approximately 850 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in the city.

*BY GWYNNE HOGAN, The Gothamist*

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