New York Governor Kathy Hochul has announced that she will allow the state's indoor masking requirement to expire.

Hochul made the long-awaited announcement Wednesday morning. She said the state mandate is being lifted as of Thursday, leaving it up to counties and individual businesses to decide whether they wish to continue requiring employees and customers to wear masks.

The governor said the mask mandate will remain in effect at healthcare and correctional facilities, as well as transportation centers including bus stations. Masking also will continue to be required at several other types of sites, including nursing homes and correctional facilities.

Hochul stressed the pandemic "is not over." She said she wanted "to strike the right balance."

The governor said the masking requirement will remain in effect in New York state schools at least through the coming winter break. She said the school mask mandate will be reevaluated in the first week of March.

Hochul reviewed the state's efforts to fight the expected winter surge in coronovirus cases, including the mask and vaccine protocol that took effect on December 10.

The governor noted there has been a dramatic drop in new Covid-19 cases in New York state in recent weeks. She also said there has been a big decrease in the number of people hospitalized due to the coronavirus.

Hochul said New York's healthcare workers are getting healthier after many became infected with Covid-19.

The governor again urged parents to have their children vaccinated, as she pointed out only a small number of eligible kids have received a jab in recent weeks.

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Contact WNBF News reporter Bob Joseph: bob@wnbf.com. For breaking news and updates on developing stories, follow @BinghamtonNow on Twitter.

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