NEW YORK (AP) — Facing a winter surge in COVID-19 infections, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said Friday that all indoor public spaces will require masks unless they have a vaccination requirement.
Hochul said the decision to reinstitute a mask mandate was based on state’s weekly seven-day case rate, as well as increasing hospitalizations. New York passed a mask mandate in April 2020, which lasted for more than one year.
Patrons as well as staff will have to wear masks. The mandate will take effect Monday through January 15, and then 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.
Over 68,000 people tested positive for the virus during the period ending Wednesday. That’s the most in any seven-day stretch since the start of February. It is particularly evident in areas upstate New York that have been responsible for almost three-quarters (or more) of COVID-19 confirmed deaths at hospitals in the past eight months.
“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.
A number of upstate New York county have also recently adopted mask mandates. Erie County includes Buffalo.
Hochul stated that violators may face both civil and criminal sanctions, with a maximum of $1,000. The requirements will be enforced by local health departments.
Villeneuve reported in Albany, New York. Michael Hill, Associated Press journalist from Albany contributed.