New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order on Thursday permitting businesses to deny customers access to their shops if they are not wearing a face mask.
Cuomo’s order adds New York to a growing list of states requiring residents to wear some sort of face covering when going into businesses that have reopened amidst the coronavirus pandemic. The New York governor says the order will help protect more residents from contracting the disease and will speed up the reopening of the state’s economy.
“We’re giving the store owners the right to say, ‘If you’re not wearing a mask, you can’t come in,’” Cuomo said at his daily briefing, which he held in Brooklyn. “That store owner has a right to protect themselves. That store owner has a right to protect the other patrons in that store.”
He added: “You don’t want to wear a mask, fine. Then you don’t have a right to enter that store.”
Cuomo said his new order will reduce conflicts between shop owners and customers who refuse to cover their faces
The immediate effect of the order is unclear. Many stores already require patrons to wear masks.
Face coverings are already required in New York when people are out in public and near others.
Portions of at least 39 states have orders requiring residents to wear masks while in public places. Besides New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Kentucky are all requiring masks be worn by customers in essential businesses. A number of other states require masks be worn when out in public.
Cuomo’s executive order comes as restrictions on shops are beginning to loosen around the state, though not yet in New York City. New York has been the hardest hit state by the coronavirus pandemic, with the metropolitan area around the country’s largest city being particularly impacted by the outbreak.
As of Thursday, there were more than 360,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New York with more than 23,200 deaths – over 16,400 of which were in New York City.
Masks or no masks, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio said Thursday that any businesses that try to reopen before coronavirus restrictions are lifted will face fines starting at $1,000.
“No, businesses are not supposed to make up their own rules and jump the gun,” de Blasio said at his daily briefing on the virus.
New York City is the only jurisdiction in the state that has not met Cuomo’s guidelines for the first phase of New York’s four-part reopening process, including having enough contact tracers to monitor people exposed to the virus. De Blasio said he expects the city to enter Phase 1, including construction, manufacturing and retail with curbside pickup, during the first two weeks of June.
Some merchants, including the owner of a Staten Island tanning salon, have said they plan on reopening this week. De Blasio said businesses that reopen before they are supposed to will be be told to close, and if they ignore orders to shut their doors, fines will be issued.
“I’m not into free agents,” de Blasio said. “I’m not into people deciding that they get to make the rules and they can do something everyone else can’t do.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Author: Andrew O’Reilly