The Democratic mayor-elect of New York City indicated on Sunday that when it comes to school vaccine and mask mandates, he'll take a different approach from that of his predecessor.
Appearing on CNN's "State of the Union," Mayor-elect Eric Adams said that he hopes to lift the city's school mask mandate this year now that children as young as 5 can get a COVID-19 vaccine, though he cautioned, "We're going to do it with science."
"I think part of the development and socialization of a child is that smile. I cannot tell you. I look for that smile when I go visit schools. Not being able to see the smiles of our children, I believe it has a major impact, and not only that, not being able to identify the child," said Adams.
"I walked past my brother the other day who had on a mask. So I think it's imperative that we can find a safe way to do it. I look forward to getting rid of the masks. But it must be done with the science, that we're not going back to turning our city and closing it down," he added.
The current mayor of New York City, on the other hand, made clear Thursday that he has no intention of lifting mask mandates in classrooms in the near future. Speaking at his daily press briefing, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that "out of an abundance of caution, I would keep the masks in place."
"I would keep the masks in place, at least in the short term because they've really worked, because the kids have adapted to them well, the adults have adapted to them well," he said. "But I would also say, as an everyday person, I look forward to the day when we don't need them. We just need to make sure we're absolutely certain that's the right moment."
New York City officials have not said what it would take to end masking requirements in city schools, and the mayor has so far been unable to present city residents with benchmarks for returning to normal.
While Adams has not offered specifics on how or when the mandates will end, he has said he is willing to listen to those who disagree with masking or COVID-19 vaccine requirements and is conscious of their concerns.
"I believe in the mandates. Let's be clear on that," Adams told CNN. "We have done an amazing job. Over 80 percent of New Yorkers are mandated. Many of our municipal employees are as well.
"But when you look in the crevices of those last numbers that are not, some are legitimate issues. Like, one young lady I spoke with, she has a religious exemption for all of [her] children. They're 20-something years old, never vaccinated in schools. So, why are we all of a sudden telling her we are no longer going to respect that?
"And so, if there are real health care issues, real religious exemptions, we need to look at that and weed that out of those who are just on the street trying to bring about disorder in our city," he said.