A growing number of New York counties indicated they won’t enforce Gov. Kathy Hochul’s mask-or-vaccine mandate that she enacted earlier this month, with one county executive describing the Democratic governor’s order as “misguided and unrealistic.”
Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus said he opposes “using Gestapo tactics and going business to business and asking them if they are enforcing masking,” referring to the governor’s order.
“My health department has critical things to do that are more important than enforcing this and I think small businesses have been through enough already,” the Republican executive said. “God forbid the governor directs the state police to go out and enforce it.”
On Dec. 13, Hochul—who took over after then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned in August—said her administration won’t attempt to compel counties into compliance with the mandate, which went into effect on Dec. 13 and runs until Jan. 15, 2022.
“I do hope that the businesses will enforce this, and individuals will understand how important it is,” she told reporters at a Dec. 13 briefing. “We have left it to the counties to enforce, so counties can choose not to enforce. But we hope counties are enforcing.”
The mandate has fines of up to $1,000 for each violation, according to her office. During a Dec. 14 news conference in Manhattan, the governor noted that individual counties “have always had to enforce public health requirements.”
Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro noted that his office simply doesn’t have the resources or “even the desire” to enforce the governor’s mandate.
“It’s difficult enough in an emergency to tell people something they should do, but even more so now when [Hochul’s] predecessor frankly squandered public trust,” Molinaro said on Dec. 15, according to the New York Post.
The head of Greene County, located in the Catskills, said he doesn’t have the “staff to do enforcement, so we’re not even going to try to do enforcement.”
“What am I going to do, station somebody at a Walmart 24/7? It’s silly,” Administrator Shaun Groden said. “My staff will have to mask up. But we’re not going to become the mask police.”
Theodore T. Kusnierz Jr., Saratoga County Board of Supervisors chairman, said in a Dec. 13 statement that his office “will not enforce New York State’s misguided and unrealistic mask mandate.”
“Importantly, under no circumstances will the County enforce the harmful provision that bars school children from taking mask breaks.”
Around 70 percent of people in New York state are fully vaccinated, state data show. More than nine of 10 New Yorkers aged 18 and older have received at least one vaccine dose.
Hochul’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment from The Epoch Times by press time.