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Face coverings are now required at all New York State-regulated childcare facilities for children ages two and up, as well as for all staff and visitors, regardless of vaccination status.

On Wednesday, Governor Kathy Hochul announced a series of universal mask requirements designed to protect New Yorkers against the highly contagious Delta variant and the recent surge in COVID-19 infections statewide.

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The requirement applies to New York State Office of Children and Family Services-licensed and -registered childcare centers, home-based group family and family childcare programs, after-school childcare programs and enrolled legally exempt group programs during operational hours.

Hochul said applying the regulation in childcare programs will provide consistency between childcare program children and school children, many of whom often share the same buildings.

The new masking regulations are also to apply to congregate programs and facilities that are licensed, registered, operated, certified or approved by the Office of Mental Health, the Office of Addiction Services and Supports, the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities, Office of Children and Family Services and the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.

A release by the governor’s office said the new regulation includes but is not limited to certified residential and day programs, inpatient and outpatient mental health facilities, substance abuse programs, juvenile detention programs, juvenile residential facilities, congregate foster care programs, runaway and homeless youth, domestic violence and other shelter programs.

The requirements apply to anyone medically able to tolerate wearing a mask, regardless of vaccination status.

“With the Delta variant on the rise, requiring masks at state-regulated childcare, mental health, and substance abuse facilities is a key part of our broader strategy for slowing the spread of the virus, reopening our economy safely, and protecting vulnerable members of our population,” Hochul said.

“For children under 12 who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated, masks are the best line of defense against COVID-19 infection. This new mask requirement ensures that children in our childcare facilities receive the same protection as children in our schools.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.