New York’s mask mandate is reinstated, for now

Posted On Wed, January 26, 2022 By

Posted On Wed, January 26, 2022 By In Policy

Photo: Don Pollard/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul on Flickr

New York’s mask mandate has been reinstated after an appeals court judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked a ruling from a lower-court judge that struck down the policy. One day prior, Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Thomas Rademaker said Gov. Kathy Hochul’s mask requirement, which applies to all indoor public places in the state that do not require proof of vaccination, was unconstitutional.

Following the lower court decision, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a motion to stay the ruling, and Judge Robert Miller on Tuesday granted the state’s request for a stay. That order means the mask mandate will stay in effect until the court takes further action. Another hearing is scheduled for this Friday.

“Nearly three years into the COVID-19 pandemic, we know that wearing a mask saves lives,” James said in a statement. “This mandate and today’s decision are critical in helping to stop the spread of this virus and protect individuals young and old. We will continue to do everything in our power to prioritize the health and wellbeing of all New Yorkers.”

Rademaker’s ruling argued Hochul did not have the authority to order a mask mandate and needed approval from the state legislature. The initial ruling on Monday led to confusion over whether masks were still required in schools. As the New York Times reported, some school district officials on Long Island told parents that masks would be optional for staff and students on Tuesday.

Local mandates will remain in effect even if the state’s mask mandate is overturned again. In New York City, masks will continue to be required in public schools and on MTA subway and buses.

In response to the omicron variant and an increase in Covid cases and hospitalizations, Hochul in December announced the new mask requirement for all indoor public places that don’t require proof of vaccination for entry. The state’s mandate took effect on December 13 and was renewed on January 15 through at least February 1.

“As Governor, my top priority is protecting the people of this state. These measures are critical tools to prevent the spread of COVID-19, make schools and businesses safe, and save lives,” Hochul said in a statement on Tuesday.

“I commend the Attorney General for her defense of the health and safety of New Yorkers, and applaud the Appellate Division, Second Department for siding with common sense and granting an interim stay to keep the state’s important masking regulations in place. We will not stop fighting to protect New Yorkers, and we are confident we will continue to prevail.”


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