NEW YORK — Facing a winter surge in COVID-19 infections, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said today that masks would be mandatory in indoor public areas unless there is a mandate for vaccinating the venues.
Hochul said the decision to impose a mask mandate was based on state’s weekly seven-day case rate, as well as increasing hospitalizations.
Patrons as well as staff can apply the mask mandate. It will take effect Monday through Jan. 15. After that, the state will review.
“We’re entering a time of uncertainty and we could either plateau here or our cases could get out of control,” Hochul warned at a public appearance in New York City.
New York is joining other states that have similar indoor mask requirements, such as Washington, Oregon and New Mexico.
An average of roughly 9,740 people tested positive for COVID-19 over the seven days through Dec. 8 in New York, a 38% increase from the previous seven days, according to The Associated Press’s review of state data.
It is particularly evident in areas upstate New York that have been responsible for almost three-fourths confirmed COVID-19 hospital deaths since August.
“We are heading upward in a direction that I no longer find sustainable,” Hochul said.
Hochul made the announcement at the West Side Manhattan social services agency, which is home to most mask-wearing people. New York City now requires indoor dining and entertainment, as well as gyms, to be vaccinated.
Many upstate New York counties recently passed mask mandates, including Erie County which also includes Buffalo.
Hochul stated that violators may face both civil and criminal sanctions, with a maximum of $1,000. Enforcement of the regulations will be handled by local health departments.