An appeals court judge on Jan. 25 granted a stay in an appeal over mask mandates in New York, keeping the rule in effect during the legal process, New York Attorney General Letitia James said.

A New York judge struck down the state’s mask mandate on Jan. 24, one week before it was due to expire, ruling the governor overstepped her authority in imposing a rule that needed to have been passed by the state legislature.

The Omicron coronavirus variant dampened New Year festivities around much of the world, with Paris canceling its fireworks show, London relegating its to television, and New York City scaling down its famous ball drop celebration in Times Square.

New York City will stop quarantining entire classrooms exposed to the coronavirus and will instead prioritize a ramped-up testing program so that asymptomatic students testing negative for Covid-19 can remain in school, officials said on December 28.

COVID-19 cases surged in New York City and across the United States over the December 17th-19th weekend, dashing hopes for a more normal holiday season, resurrecting restrictions and stretching the country’s testing infrastructure ahead of holiday travel and gatherings.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said on December 10 that starting next week, face coverings must be worn inside all businesses and venues unless they have implemented a vaccine requirement, as cases of COVID-19 rise in the state.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on December 6 he planned to issue a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for private-sector employers that will go into effect on Dec. 27, calling it a “pre-emptive strike.”

A sixth U.S. state – Nebraska – reported the Omicron variant of the coronavirus after detecting six confirmed cases of the highly contagious strain, the state’s health department said on December 3.

New York confirmed five cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant – the NY governor said on December 2 – bringing to five the number of U.S. states having detected the variant, with 10 reported infections nationwide.

New York City’s Times Square will once again fill with revelers ringing in the new year on Dec. 31, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Nov. 16, but only if they are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.