Mayor Eric Adams on Monday said removing mask mandates in public schools was a broader sign that the city is moving toward a full economic reopening.

“When we take off the mask, we’re going to start to show that we’re open,” Adams said during an interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box. “It's just a symbol that we are back."

His remarks come a day after announcing that he would lift mask mandates in public schools beginning Monday, March 7, barring any increases in coronavirus cases. The Key to NYC program — which requires vaccination for customers of restaurants, gyms and cultural and entertainment venues — will also sunset on the same date. Adams said all other vaccine mandates remain in place, including the one for private employees that was established in the final days of Bill de Blasio's administration and calls for proof of full vaccination.

Adams’ decision came shortly after Gov. Kathy Hochul said the statewide mask mandate for schools would be lifted on March 2 and effectively recommended that counties make their own decisions for their school districts. Mask requirements remain in place for hospitals, nursing homes and other health care settings, as well as on public transit.

Adams, who started his day by ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange, has been imploring businesses to summon their employees back to office. He said the decision to end some of the pandemic-era restrictions should prompt companies to expand the number of days they are requiring employees to show up in person.

Pressed on whether there has been a “seminal” shift in the way people work, Adams acknowledged that possibility but argued he could counter the reluctance to return to the office by making the subways safer and the city more attractive.

“If I bring about the safety that's needed, and show the excitement of being back in the city, bringing tourism back to join the office atmosphere, New Yorkers are going to come back and be part of the economy,” Adams said. Earlier this month, he and Hochul unveiled a plan to reduce crime in the subways as a way of increasing ridership.

But data suggests that some outer borough neighborhoods have flourished amid the pandemic and the prevalence of those working from home. In September, the New York Times reported that Brooklyn saw an influx of residents and smaller employers.

Still, Randy Peers, the president of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, issued a statement on Monday praising Adams’ decision as “an important milestone for Brooklyn’s 62,000 small businesses and workers who are ready to return a sense of normalcy.”

Kathryn Wylde — the head of the Partnership for New York City, which represents the broader business community — told Gothamist, “We support the Mayor’s efforts to restore ‘normalcy’ to the city and removing mandates is part of what it will take, but many employers and business owners will likely maintain vaccine requirements because employees and customers feel safer.”

At an unrelated press conference in the afternoon, Adams said he did not foresee any issues with allowing businesses the option of keeping the vaccine mandate, but he said that he would consult the city’s lawyers about any potential lawsuits that could arise from different standards of service. “This is new territory for the globe,” he said.

Adams has yet to provide details on how the elimination of mandate restrictions — which have become hallmarks of the city’s aggressive fight against the coronavirus — would work and whether he also plans to phase out the city’s vaccine mandates on public and private sector employees.

On Twitter, Dr. Jay Varma, a former health adviser to former Mayor Bill de Blasio who instituted many of the mandates, urged the mayor to make high-quality masks available to all teachers and students.

Dr. Denis Nash, an epidemiologist at the City University of New York, agreed that schools should provide high-quality masks to all those who want them.

On the decision itself, he said he wished that the surveillance for COVID in public schools was more reliable and that vaccination levels among eligible school-aged children were higher. As of Sunday, only a third of kids ages 5-11 are fully vaccinated in New York City — and 24% of teens still lack all of their shots.

“Given that the mask mandate is going away, I think it is important for policy makers in City Hall and DOE to recognize that while the risk of COVID to most school-aged kids is low, they serve as a bridge to most households in NYC, where there are groups who are much more medically vulnerable,” Nash said.

Nash said he hopes city officials will strengthen vaccination outreach and infection surveillance as well as state the conditions under which New Yorkers would have to wear masks again. Rather than adopt the CDC’s new guidance on masks, which includes on-and-off ramps for masks based on COVID rates, the state is just lifting protocols wholesale. It’s unclear if Adams is planning to adopt these thresholds.

“We need to know that City Hall and DOE are thinking ahead and that NYC schools will be prepared in the event of future surges,” he added.

This story has been updated with additional comment from Mayor Adams.