Quarter of NY Counties Reluctant to Enforce Governor Hochul’s ‘Unreliable’ Mask Mandate: Report

© REUTERS / CARLO ALLEGRINew York Governor Kathy Hochul holds a news conference amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., December 14, 2021
New York Governor Kathy Hochul holds a news conference amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., December 14, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.12.2021
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Late last week, Kathy Hochul announced a temporary measure whereby New Yorkers must where a mask in all indoor public spaces unless businesses have implemented a vaccine requirement.
Leaders of 13 Republican-controlled New York counties have publicly refused to enforce Governor Kathy Hochul’s indoor mask rule which they slammed as “unreliable” and “misguided”, the New York Post reported.
The defiant counties account for almost one-quarter of all territories in the north-eastern US state, except for NYC.
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Orange County Executive Stephen Neuhaus told reporters that he opposed “using Gestapo tactics and going from business to business and asking them if they are enforcing masking”.

“My health department has critical things to do that are more important than enforcing this and I think small businesses have been through enough already,” Neuhaus said, adding, “God forbid the governor directs the state police to go out and enforce it.”
He was echoed by Administrator Shaun Groden of Greene County in the Catskills, who argued that he doesn’t have the staff necessary to enforce this, so local authorities are “not even going to try” to make people adhere to Hochul’s mask mandate.

“What am I going to do, station somebody at a Walmart 24/7? It’s silly. My staff will have to mask up. But we’re not going to become the mask police. We will still encourage people to get vaxxed. Otherwise, it’s just something we can’t accommodate,” Groden added.

Republican Theodore Kusnierz, chairman of the board of supervisors in Saratoga County, for his part, said that local officials viewed Hochul’s mandate as “misguided and unreliable.”

“Our top priority, and it has been this way since January this year, has been the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. When we have to redirect our limited resources to a mandate, that takes away from the critically important efforts that we have underway in ensuring that everyone who would like to receive a vaccination has received it,” he insisted.

The same tone was struck by Rockland County Executive Ed Day who told Fox Business on Tuesday that focusing on the face covering requirement “makes no sense” because “if you take my people off the vaccination line and support staff for clinics and have them walking around Rockland County trying to figure out who’s wearing a mask or not, that is not a good use of resources”.
The angry remarks come several days after Hochul announced in statement that the mask mandate, which is already in place as of 13 December, will be reinstated until 15 January 2022, “after which the state will re-evaluate based on current conditions”.
FILE PHOTO: A waiter sets up tables in front of a restaurant on a street on the first day of the phase two re-opening of businesses following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., June 22, 2020.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.08.2021
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She added that anyone who ignores the mask instruction could face a fine of up to $1,000 and is subject to all civil and criminal penalties. The rule stipulates that face coverings will be worn in all indoor public places unless businesses or venues implement a vaccine requirement in a bid to curb a potential surge in winter COVID-19 cases.
According to data provided by New York State, about 81 percent of the population received at least one coronavirus vaccine dose and more than 70 percent of New Yorkers completed the vaccine series.
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