NEW YORK — Facing a startling spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a new statewide indoor mask mandate on Friday.
Hochul said she’s requiring everyone in most indoor public spaces to mask up for at least the next few weeks in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.
More than 68,000 new cases of COVID were recorded in the seven-day period that ended Wednesday — the highest number in any seven-day stretch since February.
More New Yorkers are being hospitalized with severe cases of COVID as well. The number of people hospitalized statewide has nearly doubled from 1,794 on Nov. 7 to nearly 3,500.
“We’re entering a time of uncertainty and we could either plateau here or our cases could get out of control,” Hochul warned.
The new indoor mask mandate is slightly different than the previous mandate that spanned from April 2020 through June 2021. Here’s what New Yorkers need to know.
Are there different rules for vaccinated-only spaces?
New Yorkers do not need to mask up in indoor public spaces that require proof of vaccination to enter. In New York City, this includes all of the restaurants, gyms and entertainment venues that fall under the Key to NYC vaccine mandate. Individual businesses and other indoor public places can implement their own vaccine requirement to avoid requiring masks.
How long will the mask mandate last?
The mask requirement will be in place from Monday, Dec. 13 through Jan. 15, 2022, after which state officials will reevaluate, Hochul said.
Who does the mask mandate apply to?
The new mask mandate applies to both patrons and staff of all indoor public spaces statewide, unless there is a vaccine requirement to enter.
What happens if I violate the mask mandate?
Anyone who refuses to wear a mask in a required indoor space could face civil and criminal penalties, including a maximum fine of $1,000.
Who is enforcing the requirement?
Hochul said local health departments will be in charge of enforcing the new mask mandate.
This story comprises reporting from The Associated Press.