All people must wear a mask or face-covering in public in situations where social distancing is not possible, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday. As part of an executive order, New Yorkers must wear a mask or cloth covering over their nose and mouth to stop the spread of the coronavirus. This includes wearing face coverings in crowded areas like busy sidewalks and public transportation. The new order will go into effect on Friday, the governor said.
“It’s the same thing we’ve been saying from day one,” Cuomo said on Wednesday. “If you’re going to be in public and you cannot maintain social distancing, then have a mask. And put the mask on when you are not in socially distanced places.”
The governor said he understands that people need to get outside for walks and fresh air, but he added: “Don’t infect me. You don’t have the right to infect me.”
On Thursday, Cuomo added public transportation systems, private transportation carriers, and for-hire vehicles to the list of places where masks are required. And any operator or driver of these systems must wear a mask at all times. “Is this inconvenient? Yes,” Cuomo said. “But you’re in a closed environment by definition.” He added: “This is a precaution for everyone that I think balances individual liberties with a social conscience.”
The new mandate builds on an executive order issued by Cuomo on Sunday that requires all essential employees to wear face coverings when in public.”Businesses must provide, at their expense, such face coverings for their employees,” the order reads. This requirement will go into effect on Wednesday at 8 p.m.
Following the way most COVID-19 guidelines have been released in New York, Cuomo’s face covering executive order comes just a few hours after Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a similar plan. During his press conference on Wednesday, the mayor said grocery stores “should require” customers to wear masks when shopping to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Cuomo’s order appears to make this a legal requirement.
“I’m asking every store to put up a sign that you’re required to wear a face covering,” the mayor said during a press conference. “This is another one of the things we have to do to protect each other.”
De Blasio also said the police department will help store owners if problems arise with customers who refuse to comply. “We will back up those stores,” the mayor said. “We need to keep each other safe. We need to keep these grocery and supermarket workers safe.”
Supermarkets have been hot spots for crowds, the NYPD told the New York Times. Officers have been stationed at busy grocery stores, like Trader Joe’s, to help enforce social distancing guidelines.
Editor’s Note 4/16/20: This post was originally published on April 15, 2020, but has since been updated with additional requirements regarding face coverings.
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