New York Governor Extends Mask Mandate

New York Governor Extends Mask Mandate
An employee at a coffee shop in Manhattan wears a masks as signs ask for proof of vaccination, on the day that a mask mandate went into effect in New York on Dec. 13, 2021. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Mimi Nguyen Ly

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Jan. 28 announced an extension to the state’s indoor mask mandate through Feb. 10.

The mandate covers restaurants, stores, gyms, theaters, and other private businesses.

“We’ll be extending that just through Feb. 10,” Hochul said. “Probably a couple days before then, we’ll be evaluating. But if we continue on this rapid trend downward, we’ll be in a good place. If it levels off or something else happens, I need that flexibility.”

New coronavirus infections in New York have declined in recent weeks to about 20,000 daily during the week ending Jan. 26 from almost 70,000 during the week ending Jan. 12.

The governor initially imposed a mandate in December 2021 that required people to wear masks for all public indoor settings—unless they were vaccinated. The mandate was due to expire on Jan. 15, before Hochul moved the deadline to Feb. 1, and now to Feb. 10.

The directive has fines of up to $1,000 for each violation. But Hochul also said her administration wouldn’t seek to compel counties to comply with the mandate.

The latest extension comes amid ongoing litigation over the mandate. Hochul’s administration is currently pursuing an appeal against a ruling by Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Thomas Rademaker, who deemed the state’s mask mandate “unconstitutional and unenforceable” on Jan. 24, and that the state legislature would need to approve such laws for the mask mandate to be imposed.

Rademaker’s ruling doesn’t prevent school districts from imposing their own mask mandates.

The following day, an appeals judge granted the state’s request for a stay while Hochul’s office pursues an appeal.