WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — Samaritan Health has again updated its masking policy.

Masks are now all optional at most Samaritan locations for staff, patients and visitors, with exceptions, according to a press release from the Health System.

Samaritan mandated masks at all locations at the end of August due to a spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

However, Samaritan said the decision to switch to mask-optional was made after its infection prevention team researched facemask guidelines and had discussions with leaders. The team reviewed the metrics and trends across the organization and county.

Masks will remain required at Samaritan’s emergency department and long-term care facilities.

Beginning October 25, all remaining locations will use an outbreak approach to mandatory masking. Visitors, patients and employees may be asked to mask in various locations if there is an outbreak.

Visitors will be notified upon entry if the location they are visiting is masked for the day. Visitors who refuse to wear a facemask in a mask-required area will be asked to leave.

There has been no change in visitation policies at Samaritan Medical Center.