Governor Hochul announces new mask mandate to help curb 'winter surge'

Businesses must now require proof of vaccination or mask

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In a press release, Governor Kathy Hochul announced masks will be required to be worn in all indoor public places unless businesses or venues implement a vaccine requirement.       

This determination is based on the State's weekly seven-day case rate as well as increasing hospitalizations, the press release said. The new business and venue requirements extend to both patrons and staff. This measure is effective Dec. 13, 2021 until Jan. 15, 2022, after which the State will re-evaluate based on current conditions. The new measure brings added layers of mitigation during the holidays when more time is spent indoors shopping, gathering, and visiting holiday-themed destinations.     

"As Governor, my two top priorities are to protect the health of New Yorkers and to protect the health of our economy," Governor Hochul said. "The temporary measures I am taking today will help accomplish this through the holiday season. 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. I want to thank the more than 80 percent of adult New Yorkers who have done the right thing to get fully vaccinated. If others will follow suit, these measures will no longer be necessary."   

"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."

Since Thanksgiving, the statewide seven-day average case rate has increased by 43% and hospitalizations have increased by 29%, the press release noted. While the percentage of New Yorkers fully vaccinated continues to increase—gaining 2% from Thanksgiving weekend to now—the uptick is not fast enough to completely curb the spread of the virus, particularly among communities with low vaccination coverage. 

Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said"Community spread requires a community-minded solution, as the Omicron variant emerges and the overwhelmingly dominant Delta variant continues to circulate. We have the tools we need to protect against the virus - and now we must ensure we use them. There are tools each individual can use, and there are actions we can take as government. Getting vaccinated protects you, and wearing a mask is how we will better protect each other. Both vaccination and mask-wearing are needed to slow this COVID-19 winter surge."    

A violation of any provision of this measure is subject to a maximum fine of $1,000 for each violation. Local health departments are being asked to enforce these requirements.

    

Business/Venue Proof of Vaccination Requirement   

Businesses and venues that implement a proof of vaccination requirement must ensure that anyone 12 years of age or older is fully vaccinated before entering indoors, the press release said. 

In accordance with CDC's definition, fully vaccinated is defined as 14 days past an individual's last vaccination dose in their initial vaccine series (14 days past the second shot of a two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine; 14 days past the one-shot Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine). The State also accepts WHO-approved vaccines for these purposes. Parents and guardians can retrieve and store an Excelsior Pass and/or Excelsior Pass Plus for children or minors under legal guardianship.    

Business/Venue Mask-Wearing Requirement 

Businesses and venues that implement a mask requirement must ensure all patrons past their second birthday and medically able to tolerate a face covering wear a mask at all times while indoors outside of physical eating or drinking, the state said.   

  

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