Face masks are required at public hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes run by NYC Health + Hospitals. The City does not require face coverings or masks in other public places. In some cases, City Agencies require face coverings for their employees in some situations. Learn about face covering rules for City workers.
Businesses, workplaces, and other private establishments are allowed to require them for employees or customers.
Who Should Wear a Face Covering
To reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) recommends you wear a high-quality mask:
This is especially important if you are at greater risk.
People at high-risk include those who:
- Are 65 or older
- Have an underlying medical condition that increases the risk of severe COVID-19
- Care for someone who is sick
- 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)
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 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.
For New Yorkers at greater risk, consider higher-grade masks, such as a KN95 mask, which is similar in design and function to N95 masks used by healthcare workers.
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 at once. This 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, KF94, or N95.
Face Coverings at Home
Wear a face covering at home:
- If you live with others and are sick, recently tested positive for COVID-19, or were recently exposed to someone with COVID-19 (unless you are alone in a separate room). You should also wear a mask when around pets because people can spread COVID-19 to their pets.
- If someone else in your household is sick, recently tested positive for COVID-19, or was recently exposed to someone with COVID-19 (unless you are in a separate room from them).
You should also consider wearing a mask around visitors if you or any visitors are unvaccinated or at high risk for severe COVID-19. You should ask your visitors to wear masks, too.
Face Covering Care
Wash cloth face coverings daily by hand or machine using detergent. Wear only when dry.
Paper face coverings are reusable until they become damaged, dirty, or wet.