Statewide mask mandate goes into effect in New York

Published: Dec. 13, 2021 at 6:46 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 13, 2021 at 3:40 PM EST
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PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) - New York’s mask mandate took effect Monday. It requires masks or vaccinations to enter indoor public spaces.

“The paramount concern is that we get through this pandemic and this holiday surge that we know is with us right now,” said Gov. Kathy Hochul, D-New York.

Hochul says with the high number of COVID cases in the state and hospitals filling up or at capacity, she is instating a new mandate for public indoor spaces like restaurants, theaters, grocery stores, houses of worship and more.

“This is all about two things: protecting the health of New Yorkers and the health of the economy,” Hochul said.

The mandate requires people in public spaces to wear a mask or allows businesses to implement a vaccine requirement for people to enter their establishments.

“I do hope the businesses will enforce this and individuals will understand how important it is. It’s a temporary measure, as long as people follow it,” Hochul said.

The governor did say it’s up to the counties to enforce it.

“We hope that they will,” Hochul said. “It’s in the best interest of public health. It also comes down to individual businesses doing the right thing, as well.”

Some counties across the state oppose the mandate and say they will not enforce it, but Clinton County Chairman Mark Henry said that is not the case in Clinton County.

“The entire state of New York is under the mask mandate, so certainly those rules and regulations set by the governor would apply to not only this county but every county,” Henry said.

The Clinton County Health Department says it is working with the businesses to make sure they are compliant, and law enforcement could be called if needed.

“We cannot put this in the same framework as last June when we stopped wearing masks. The infection rate statewide was hovering around 1% or 2% at that time,” Hochul said.

The latest statewide positivity rate is 5% and the North Country is at 7.73%.

The mandate lasts until Jan. 15. After that, the governor will look at cases in the state and decide whether to extend the mandate.

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