NEW YORK — Get ready to mask up.
A new mask mandate, announced by Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday, applies to both patrons and staff at businesses and will be in effect from Monday to Jan. 15, after which the state will reevaluate.
The new mask mandate is slightly different from the previous mandate, which started in April 2020 and was listed in June of 2021.
New Yorkers do not need to mask up in indoor public spaces that require proof of vaccination to enter. In New York City, that would include all restaurants, gyms and entertainment venues. Individual businesses can implement their own vaccine requirement to avoid requiring masks.
But at those indoor establishments that don’t have vaccine requirements, both staff and patrons must mask up or face a maximum $1,000 fine.
Those on the front lines of battling covid say this new New York State mask mandate is needed.
“We know that mandates work,” Lenox Hill pulmonologist Dr. Len Horivitz told PIX11 News. “We know there’s a lot of resistance for whatever reasons, but we know they work.”
Dr. Horovitz is seeing an increase in patients with COVID during these colder months, but because these patients are vaccinated, the breakthrough cases so far have been mild.
“This is an endemic virus that’s going to be with us for a while,” Dr. Horovitz told PIX11 News. “So just because we are tired of it doesn’t mean it’s tired of us.”
The nation’s leading Infectious disease specialist, speaking on ABC This Week, says they have not ruled out the idea of yearly booster shots to fight COVID, much like annual flu shots.
And Dr. Anthony Fauci welcomes any mask mandates being put in place during the cold winter season.
“If you were in a congregate setting and do not know the vaccination status of the people around you, wear a mask,” Fauci said. “Masking is not going to be forever but can get us out of a very difficult situation we’re in now.”
Gov. Hochul says it is up to local health departments to enforce the new mask mandate.