To take action against the winter surge resulting in increased COVID-19 cases, Governor Kathy Hochul announced a new statewide mask mandate on Friday, December 10th.
Beginning today, December 13th, through January 15th, masks must be worn in all public indoor spaces unless a venue or business requires full vaccination for patrons and staff.
The requirement is effective during a time of year when people are spending a substantial amount of time indoors with holiday shopping, gathering, and destinations. After Thanksgiving, the statewide case rate spiked by 43% with a 29% increase in hospitalization.
“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. 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,” Governor Hochul said.
Already more than 80% of adults in New York State are fully vaccinated. Governor Hochul notes that “[i]f 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.”
Local health departments are asked to enforce this new mandate as each violation may result in a maximum fine of $1,000.
If businesses/venues decide to require full vaccination over masks, proof must be shown by an Excelsior Pass, Excelsior Pass Plus, SMART Health Cards issued outside of New York State, a CDC Vaccination Card, full-course vaccination through NYC COVID Safe app, or other official immunization record for everyone 12 years or older. Children 5-11 years old will have to show proof of at least one dose to enter.
For businesses that don’t implement a full vaccination requirement, masks must be worn by all patrons and staff (if medically tolerable) while indoors, unless one is drinking or eating.
Find out more here.