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Hochul announces vaccine-or-mask mandate for all New York indoor establishments starting Monday

  • Steve Bittenbender | The Center Square contributor/Dec 10, 2021
mother putting a face mask on her daughter
Photo by August de Richelieu on

(The Center Square) – Starting today, all indoor public places across New York will be subject to a mask mandate unless those establishments have a vaccine requirement already in place.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the new policy Friday, saying in a statement the measure is in response to a winter surge of COVID-19 cases hitting the state.

The vaccine-or-mask mandate will be in effect through at least Jan. 15, with state officials reassessing at that time whether it should be extended. Local health departments will be tasked with enforcing the measures, with penalties reaching up to $1,000 for each violation.

“Community spread requires a community-minded solution, as the Omicron variant emerges and the overwhelmingly dominant Delta variant continues to circulate,” Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said in a statement.

Hochul, in a statement, said her key priorities are to protect New Yorkers’ wellbeing and protect the economy. In the weeks prior, she had said she would be willing to take additional action if caseloads did not drop.

Across the state, the seven-day average for new cases has risen by more than 40% since Thanksgiving. Hospitalizations have increased by nearly 30% over the same timeframe.

“The temporary measures I am taking today will help accomplish this through the holiday season,” she said. “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.”

Under the plan, establishments that roll out a mask mandate will be required to ensure all patrons ages 2 and older – regardless of vaccination status – wear a mask at all times while indoors.

Those that limit access to the fully vaccinated will be allowed to accept for proof of vaccination Excelsior Pass or Excelsior Pass Plus – the state’s COVID-19 vaccine passports, other “SMART Health Cards” issued by other jurisdictions or a hard copy of the official vaccination card produced by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Individuals must be fully vaccinated, meaning their last dose was at least 14 days ago. The state will accept people who received vaccines approved by the World Health Organization.

Hochul’s action comes after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday private employers in the city would need to adhere to a vaccine mandate for its workers by Dec. 27. Business leaders in New York City said the mayor’s order caught them by surprise.

However, on Friday, Heather Briccetti, president and CEO for the Business Council of New York State, issued a statement saying the group continues to back “necessary measures to help stop” COVID-19.

“Our hope is people respect the state’s directive and employees of businesses by not putting them in the difficult position of having to enforce the mandate through confrontation,” Briccetti said.

Republican lawmakers, though, lambasted the Hochul Administration’s move.

Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay, R-Pulaski, said that with 80 percent of New Yorkers fully vaccinated, now should be a time to end mandates. He accused Hochul of using the same “heavy-handed” tactics former Gov. Andrew Cuomo used.

“Putting more costly restrictions on small businesses will do more harm than good to the job-creators still trying to regain their footing after the lockdowns of 2020,” Barclay said.

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  1. Well, I work for the NYS Contact Tracing Initiative. I work primarily with school districts (K-12) in a rural Upstate NY county. My job is to help keep kids in school during this unprecedented time. I bridge with our Local Dept of Health to help superintendents and school nurses (who are the UNSUNG HEROES) do what they can to protect the children and keep them present.
    Our COVID numbers are TRIPLE what they were last year at this time. I marvel at the insanity of that. We have masks, we have vaccines, we have had almost two years to GET IT RIGHT, and we’re worse off than we were. This is less a pandemic of a viral disease and more, a pandemic of bad human behavior. Our school nurses and superintendents are dealing with many hostile parents who are ‘anti’– everything. How awful for them. They’re working hard to help kids and they’re getting abused. Yes, we each have the freedom to choose how we wish to deal with this, but our actions affect others. Isn’t that important? Our global COMMUNITY is real and what we each do radiates out to the world.
    This virus and this pandemic is REAL. Statistics can be tricky. It’s easy to look overall and say, “95% of people who contract COVID will recover and be fine.” That may seem so, however we don’t know the long term affects of contracting this virus. We are the experimental group. Plus, from my own personal experience with people I know who have had COVID, it isn’t so cut and dry. I have two friends with many underlying conditions– MANY— who became infected and recovered with no seeming after affects. I have another, a 45 yr old healthy, athletic man, who was on a ventilator for 8 wks, is now coming ‘back’ but who cannot breathe on his own, cannot talk, cannot walk, is still in ICU and we have no idea what his prognosis is. My point? WHY take a chance with your health or as importantly, WITH SOMEONE ELSE’S? COVID is not predictable. Generalities about it exist, but there are anomalies that cannot yet be understood. So WHY TAKE A CHANCE.
    If you don’t want to be vaccinated, at least wear a mask. This ‘anii mask’ stuff makes me CRAZY. Masks are easy, cheap, and protective. Let’s tell your surgeon next time you have surgery not to wear a mask. It might be bad for his/her health. Or you know, a mask doesn’t help anyway. Come on people!!
    The irony is, that the people who are most ‘anti’ are also the people who are ‘sick of this COVID stuff and are ready to move on.” Hey– YOU are the ones keeping it going!! We are ALL sick to death of it and if we were collectively more focused on health and compassion for all, we’d have moved through this by now!
    We have better technology and better communication than we have had in any other pandemic humans have dealt with. So why are we handling this the worst we ever have?
    We’ve had two children in our rural community die of COVID. One had no underlying conditions. The other did. We’ve had a 10 week old baby test positive. This is a disease for everyone. It will become endemic, to be sure, but it’s so sad to me that we will reach herd immunity the ‘natural’ way, that will take longer, and will affect more people than it would ever have needed to.
    If you’re on the fence or even if you’re ‘anti’– why not talk to your doctor? Or call your local dept of health? Talk to a lab tech or a nurse. We don’t need to be epidemiologists to understand a little about how viruses work, but I guarantee, if you know how they work, and how they mutate and stick around in your body, you may have more to think about. Ever had a cold sore? That means you had chicken pox as a child. Viruses stick around. I find it even more ironic that many people who are are anti-vacc have no problem drinking, smoking, taking god knows what drugs– including prescription meds— all as ‘toxic’ or more so, than a vaccine that will ultimately protect them. And if you don’t know how vaccines work, ask your doctor as well. There’s A TON of misinformation out there about them.
    Conspiracy theories are ridiculous. I don’t deny there are conspiracies, but it’s so convenient to ascribe to one, as they cannot be disproven, because the disproof could easily be labeled part of the conspiracy. Bill Gates is not putting a bot in the vaccine. mRna vaccines do not sterilize you, kill you, or make your legs drop off (I’ve heard it all) and the Earth is not flat. Yes, we have “Flat Earthers” up here. Ask, get informed, and PUT A MASK ON. They don’t make you sick!! If they did, surgeons, doctors, nurses and construction workers wouldn’t be able to do their job! And if you don’t want to wear a mask or get vacc’d, then don’t complain about not being let in.
    We are alllll part of this, and we all have to part of the solution.

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