NEW YORK (WWTI) — Governor Hochul announced a mask mandate for New Yorkers on Friday in response to rising COVID-19 rates statewide. As part of the mandate, masks are required in all indoor public places unless businesses and venues implement a vaccine requirement.
The mandate is effective beginning on December 13 and will remain in place until at least January 15, 2022. The state will re-evaluate the need for the mandate based on conditions at that time.
Congresswoman Elise Stefanik issued a statement in opposition to the mask mandate shortly after it was announced by the governor. Stefanik called it a “crushing mandate for New York small businesses who have faced unprecedented challenges throughout the COVID pandemic.”
“Essentially, Kathy Hochul is asking businesses to be responsible for checking the vaccine status for every individual, which is an untenable and outrageous request of our business community. This unprecedented overreach of power is no way to govern,” Stefanik said.
Officials from the governor’s office say the statewide seven-day average case rate has increased by 43% and hospitalizations have increased by 29% since Thanksgiving. New York recorded more than 68,000 positive tests for the virus in the seven-day period that ended Wednesday, the most in any seven-day stretch since the start of February.
“I have warned for weeks that additional steps could be necessary, and now we are at that point based upon three metrics: Increasing cases, reduced hospital capacity, and insufficient vaccination rates in certain areas,” Governor Hochul said. According to the governor’s office, this new measure brings added layers of mitigation during the holidays when more time is spent indoors shopping, gathering, and visiting holiday-themed destinations.