New York indoor mask mandate for places without vaccine requirement

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul issued an indoor mask mandate Friday for all public places that do not require proof of vaccination.

Citing rising COVID cases and hospitalizations, Hochul said the measure was to prevent further spread of the coronavirus during the winter months.

"As Governor, my two top priorities are to protect the health of New Yorkers and to protect the health of our economy," said Hochul. "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."

The new business and venue requirements extend to both patrons and staff. This measure is effective Dec. 13 until Jan. 15, 2022.

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The state will re-evaluate the measure in January.

New York recorded more than 68,000 positive tests for the virus in the seven-day period that ended Dec. 8. That's the most in any seven-day stretch since the start of February.

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In New York City, there were more than 4,200 confirmed COVID cases. Long Island reported more than 2,000. Several states already have mask mandates, including New Mexico, Nevada, Hawaii

"I want to thank the more than 80 percent of New Yorkers who have done the right thing to get fully vaccinated. If others will follow suit, these measures will no longer be necessary," said Hochul.

Violators could face civil and criminal penalties, including a maximum fine of $1,000. Local health departments will be in charge of enforcing the requirements.

With the Associated Press

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