No fines on Day 1 of NYC mask crackdown but Cuomo threatens task force

Bill de Blasio mask

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio wears a protective mask while greeting students as they arrive for in-person classes outside Public School 188 The Island School, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, in the Manhattan borough of New York. Hundreds of thousands of elementary school students are heading back to classrooms starting Tuesday as New York City enters a high-stakes phase of resuming in-person learning during the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

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NEW YORK — Mayor Bill de Blasio says no one was fined for mask refusal on the first day of a promised crackdown in a handful of New York City neighborhoods that have seen a spike in coronavirus infections.

De Blasio said Wednesday that city employees distributed thousands of masks Tuesday in the Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods with rising infection rates.

That was the first day that fines for refusing to wear a mask had been threatened.

But Gov. Andrew Cuomo appeared to disparage the effort. He says it was not enforcing compliance and mere “public education.”

“The local governments must do compliance, I’ve said that hundreds of times,” Cuomo said during a Wednesday press conference. “If it is a state law then the localities must enforce it. Localities and we’re talking Orange, Rockland, New York City, Nassau that has a couple of communities infected.”

Cuomo added that if local politicians don’t enforce the law, he will, with the help of state police.

“I would need the local governments to assign a number of their police to the state police for a task force,” Cuomo said. “And then I will enforce it with a task force and then I will ticket people who don’t wear masks because that will save lives.”

Cuomo and de Blasio, both Democrats, are often at odds.

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