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Statewide mask mandate begins Monday, businesses can opt for vaccine mandate instead

Governor Kathy Hochul has announced that a statewide mask or vaccine requirement will go into effect on Monday, December 13 for all public and private sector businesses.

Masks will be required in all indoor public settings unless businesses or venues implement a vaccine requirement.

It’s the first major statewide action taken since the winter surge of COVID-19 began around Thanksgiving.

The determination was based on the state’s weekly 7-day case rate, as well as increased hospitalizations across New York.

Hochul says the state will reconsider the measure on January 15, 2022.

“As governor, my two top priorities are to protect the health of New Yorkers and to protect the health of our economy,” 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.”

Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay released a lengthy statement condemning the mandate.

“Despite 80 percent of adults in New York being fully vaccinated, we are once again being force-fed another statewide mandate announced without notice, with little information, from a podium at a press conference. Gov. Hochul is using the same heavy-handed process that we grew all too familiar with – and tired of – under her predecessor, Andrew Cuomo,” Barclay said. “Vaccination rates are increasing, yet the state’s response is reminiscent of days prior to the development of a vaccine when COVID infection rates were dramatically higher. 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. Executive Chamber edicts and policy-by-press release aren’t making the situation any better.”

Barclay pointed to the hospital staffing crisis in New York, as a prime example of why mandates do not work.

“The staffing crisis we’re seeing in our hospitals is a self-inflicted wound exacerbated by Gov. Hochul’s employee mandate that offered no flexibility to frontline workers and removed caregivers from care settings. There is no denying that it has severely compromised the state’s health care system at the exact moment it can least afford it,” he said. “We are at a point where New York state should be shedding mandates, past the need for more sweeping executive actions and moving forward. Unfortunately, today we took several steps backward.”