ALBANY — Gov. Kathy Hochul is requiring masks at all indoor public places unless businesses or venues implement a vaccine requirement.
The mask mandate will go into effect on Dec. 13 and stay in place until Jan. 15, 2022 after which the state will assess the hospitalization and infection rates to see if it should be extended.
“As governor, my two top priorities are to protect the health of New Yorkers and to protect the health of our economy. The temporary measures I am taking today will help accomplish this through the holiday season,” Hochul said in a statement. “We shouldn’t have reached the point where we are confronted with a winter surge, especially with the vaccine at our disposal, and I share many New Yorkers’ frustration that we are not past this pandemic yet.”
Earlier this week, Albany County Executive Dan McCoy fell short of mandating masks to stem the rising number of COVID cases but “strongly encouraged” them for all indoor public places. He said the only way a mask mandate would be effective if it was a regional approach but he, and Schenectady County Manager Rory Fluman, still mentioned difficulties with enforcement.
It will fall on the local Health Departments to enforce Hochul’s mandate and any violation will carry a maximum of a $1,000 fine for each violation. It does not specify if the fine falls on the business and/or venue or the person refusing to wear a mask.
As the number of cases continues to spike in Albany County, McCoy applauded Hochul for mandating masks statewide.
“I have continually said that any kind of mask or vaccine requirement would only be truly effective if it’s done at least on a regional basis,” he said. “This statewide policy will help us stem the tide of new infections, which will prevent more hospitalizations and deaths as we approach the winter months.”
Since Thanksgiving, the statewide seven-day average case rate has increased by 43 percent and hospitalizations have increased by 29 percent. The percentage of New Yorkers 18 and older who are vaccinated increased by 2 percent since Thanksgiving to 81.3 percent. Those 18 and older with at least one vaccine dose stands at 92.1 percent.
Businesses and venues who implement a proof of vaccination requirement can accept Excelsior Pass, Excelsior Pass Plus, SMART Health Cards issued outside of New York state, or a Center for Disease Control vaccination card.