The Covid-19 pandemic lasted 2 years. The next steps are divisive.

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Residents in Elmhurst, Queens, one of the city’s neighborhoods hardest hit by Covid-19 in the early months of the pandemic, have been particularly cautious. Neha Shah, 25, was worried about her diabetic father and said she tried to avoid crowded restaurants and cafes.

“I just feel like it’s for public safety,” Ms Shah said. “I don’t agree to them being dropped.”

For Emily Suardy, a barista at Furman’s Coffee in Brooklyn, the masks couldn’t be taken off soon enough. They made the work in her little cafe hot and uncomfortable and she felt safe in her daily life as she and her co-workers, friends and family were vaccinated.

Even if there is a spike in positive Covid-19 cases or another variant emerges, she said she would be reluctant to go back to masking inside unless the city reinstates its mandate.

“I’m really fed up,” Ms. Suardy said. “If it’s not mandatory, I won’t use it.”

That was not the case for one of New York’s most prominent recovering Covid-19 patients, Broadway icon Patti LuPone.

For two years, Ms. LuPone said she took every precaution. But as Omicron waned, she said, she started dating and gotten a little lax about wearing masks. Then, late last month, she tested positive ahead of a performance of Stephen Sondheim’s “Company” and was forced to leave the theater.

For 10 days, Ms LuPone was forced to isolate a woman who had lunched alone in her apartment as she coped with flu-like symptoms and fatigue.

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