New York to implement indoor mask mandate for public places

Coronavirus

In this image taken from video, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks during a virtual press conference, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, in New York. Multiple cases of the omicron coronavirus variant have been detected in New York, health officials said Thursday, including a man who attended an anime convention in Manhattan in late November and tested positive for the variant when he returned home to Minnesota. (AP Photo)

NEW YORK (AP) — Facing a winter surge in COVID-19 infections, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Friday that masks will be required in all indoor public places unless the businesses or venues implement a vaccine requirement.

Hochul said the decision to impose a mask mandate was based on state’s weekly seven-day case rate, as well as increasing hospitalizations.

The mask mandate applies to both patrons and staff and will be in effect from Dec. 13 to Jan. 15, after which the state will reevaluate.

“As governor, my two top priorities are to protect the health of New Yorkers and to protect the health of our economy,” Hochul, a Democrat, said in a news release. “The temporary measures I am taking today will help accomplish this through the holiday season.”

Several states already have mask mandates, including New Mexico, Nevada, Hawaii.

New York recorded more than 68,000 positive tests for the virus in the seven-day period that ended Dec. 8. That’s the most in any seven-day stretch since the start of February.

“I have warned for weeks that additional steps could be necessary, and now we are at that point based upon three metrics: Increasing cases, reduced hospital capacity, and insufficient vaccination rates in certain areas,” Hochul said.

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