Attention, New Yorkers: Yes, you still have to wear a mask when out in public.
A recent survey conducted by the New York Times found that mask-wearing still varies widely by neighborhood, but men especially were more likely not to wear a mask, or to wear one improperly. About one in three men were spotted maskless on the streets, while only about one in six women were, according to the Times.
It’s understandable that people might be getting lax about masks. We’re five months into the pandemic here in the city, and the worst of it is behind us. Hospitalization rates are the lowest they’ve been since mid-march, and the positive test rate has been below 1% for nearly two weeks now.
But that’s precisely because masking is working. Those of us who remember the claustrophobic panic and endless sirens of March and April as the virus ravaged the city have no interest in going back to that, or even dipping our toes into a possible second wave. With businesses open and schools welcoming back students soon, we must be extra vigilant about not letting our guards down. The public mask mandate Governor Cuomo issued in April remains in effect.
People who fled New York during the dark months are now returning to the city now to enjoy open streets and curbside dining. Welcome back! But a friendly reminder from those who stuck around in the trenches of the pandemic and suffered its psychic trauma: Please do continue to take this seriously. Respect your fellow New Yorkers, shoppers, diners and employees, and please cover your face when near other people, especially when indoors.
Wearing a mask isn’t about protecting yourself. It’s about protecting others around you from the possibly virus-filled droplets on your breath. So just act like you downed a fistful of onions from a hot dog cart and are constantly walking around with nuclear halitosis, and you will be fine. And, yes, doctors still think you might have the virus in your system even without symptoms.
The Downtown Alliance provides free masks to Lower Manhattan businesses and their employees (email us if you’d like some and are located in the neighborhood) , and you can also purchase them from local stores, street vendors and local merchants on Etsy. Masks have become the de facto fashion statement of the summer, and the fall will bring a whole new round of stylish faceguard trends to accessorize with.
But, mostly, masks represent the most fashionable thing of all: Showing that you care about other people.