Governor Cuomo issued an executive order requiring all people in New York to wear a mask or a face covering when out in public and in situations where social distancing cannot be maintained, such as on public transportation.
The City also strongly recommends that you:
- Continue to stay home as much as possible and avoid close contact with others.
- Maintain physical distance and stay six feet apart when you must go outside for work, essential needs, or to get medical care.
- Wear a face covering indoors when you are around other people and you are not in your home, even if 6 feet of distance can be maintained.
- Wear a face covering in your home if:
- Someone who doesn't live in the household is there.
- You live with others who are sick, recently tested positive for COVID-19, or were recently exposed to someone with COVID-19 (unless alone in a separate room). In these instances, face coverings should also be worn around pets.
- Wearing a face covering prevents you from unintentionally spreading COVID-19 to other people.
- Wearing a face covering does not make you invincible. It is mainly about protecting other people from possible spread.
Get answers to frequently asked questions about face coverings.
Face Coverings and Vaccination
Vaccines are an important tool in preventing COVID-19, however even after you are vaccinated, you will still need to practice these important COVID-19 prevention steps:
- Wear a face covering and keep physical distance from others
- Stay home if sick
- Wash your hands
Choosing a Face Covering
- Use a face covering with two or three layers of material to better prevent unfiltered air from passing through.
- Use face coverings made of tightly woven fabric (fabrics that do not let light pass through when held up to a light source). Face coverings should be made of breathable fabric (like cotton), and not of leather, plastic, or other materials that make it hard to breathe.
- Don't use a face covering with an exhalation valve as it allows unfiltered exhaled air to escape.
- Don't use health care worker masks such as N95 masks. N95 respirators should be used in health care settings. The limited supply of these masks must be preserved for frontline health care workers.
For New Yorkers at greater risk, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) recommends two masks or even considering higher-grade masks, such as a KN95 mask, which is similar in design and function to N95 masks used by healthcare workers.
This includes those who are:
- 65 or older
- Have an underlying medical condition that increases the risk of severe COVID-19
- People who care for someone who is sick
- People who are in prolonged close contact with non-household members while indoors (such as people who regularly work in-person with the members of the public)
Wearing a Face Covering
Make sure the face covering fits snugly against the sides of the face and fully covers both the nose and mouth, without slipping. Face coverings that fit loosely allow respiratory droplets to enter and leak out.
Tips to help you ensure a snug fit:
- Wear a cloth face covering over a disposable mask.
- Wear a face covering with a nose wire.
- Wear a face mask fitter or brace.
- Knot the ear loops and fold or tuck extra material.
Consider wearing two face coverings. Two face coverings may better protect you and others by adding layers and helping ensure a snug fit. If you decide to wear two face coverings, wear a cloth face covering over a disposable mask. Do not wear two disposable masks or a face covering over a higher-grade mask like a KN95.
Face Covering Care
Cloth face coverings should be washed once a day by hand or machine using detergent. Wear only when dry.
Paper face coverings are reusable until they become damaged, dirty, or wet.
Face Covering Complaints
To report a lack of social distancing or face coverings, visit the Social Distancing or Face Covering Complaint page.
You can get posters displaying reminders of the need to wear a face covering when outside the home.
Go to the Health and Mental Hygiene Literature page to get free copies of these materials by mail or to download them online.