Recently, on December 10, 2021, New York State’s Governor Kathy Hochul announced a new mask requirement to wear masks in all indoor public places unless such businesses or venues implement a mandatory vaccine requirement as a prerequisite. This new requirement went into effect this past Monday, December 13, 2021, and will be re-evaluated on January 15, 2022.  Below is a summary of the most frequent questions asked pertaining to the new mask mandate:

mask face covering1. Why do we have a new COVID-19 mask mandate?

The Governor is attempting to prevent a winter surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations which is in alignment with the CDC’s recommendations for communities with substantial and high transmission, such as Western New York.

 2. What is the penalty for violating the mask mandate?

Individuals, businesses/venues who violate the new mandate can be fined up to $1,000 for each violation.

3. How should business owners proceed regarding the COVID-19 mask mandate?

The State Health Commissioner issued a Determination on Indoor Masking Pursuant to 10 NYCRR 2.60 to support the Governor’s mask mandate here: Health Commissioner Determination and also published a very detailed question and answer section found here that address COVID-19 related issues such as: the new mask requirements, whether vaccines are working, why the State implemented the new requirements, information for specific industries and venues, the definition of fully vaccinated, the fine for violating this new mandate, and more.

4. What is an indoor public place?

An indoor public place is defined as “any indoor space that is not a private residence.”  For example, “indoor entertainment venues, concert halls, indoor sports stadiums, recreational spaces, restaurants, office buildings (and office spaces), shopping centers, grocery stores, pharmacies, houses of worship and common areas in residential buildings.”

  • Private residences such as your homes are not included in the mask mandate.

5. If you like to go out to eat or drink, read below:

Customers can remove masks only while actively eating or drinking.  “Masks should be worn in all other instances outside of physical eating or drinking,” according to the FAQs.

6. What about private events like a wedding?

According to the FAQs, if the event is held at a public indoor space, such as a restaurant or venue, then the business must require masking or proof of vaccination as a condition of entry. This is an all or nothing type of requirement for both customers and employees. Either everyone wears a mask (children aged 2 and up), or everyone must show proof of full vaccination.  Industry specific requirements can be found here: Industry Requirements

We will continue to keep you informed of the ongoing changes during the COVID-19 pandemic that will impact your individual and business needs.  This article does not contain every aspect of the new requirements, so please feel free to reach out and schedule a consultation to discuss any questions you may have.

This article is intended for general information and educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice or counsel. No attorney-client relationship is created by the distribution of this article. The substance of this article is not intended to cover all legal issues or developments regarding the matter. Please consult with an attorney to ascertain how these new developments may relate to you or your business. © 2021 Law Office of Regina Sarkis, PLLC.