New York State Implements Masking Requirements

On December 10, 2021, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that masks will be required in all indoor public places owned and operated by businesses and venues. The action seeks to address the winter surge of COVID-19 cases across the state and aligns with the current CDC recommendations for communities with substantial and high transmission. The requirement goes into effect on Monday, December 13, 2021. The requirements are in effect through January 15, 2022, at which time the state will reevaluate and amend the policy as needed. The Commissioner of NY Department of Health made a determination on indoor masking pursuant to 10 NYCRR 2.60 consistent with the Governor’s announcement.

Now, all businesses and venues must require masks to be worn at all times when indoors in the absence of a vaccine requirement. Establishments that operate indoors and have an enforced vaccination policy as a requirement of entry are exempt from the new requirements. Private residences are not subject to this requirement.

The requirement applies to office spaces if the location does not require proof of vaccination as a condition of entry. If there is no vaccination requirement as a condition of entry, every individual must wear masks at all times regardless of vaccination status except when eating, drinking, or alone in an enclosed room.

For private events held indoors at a business or venue—for example, a wedding taking place at a privately-owned restaurant or venue—the business entity must require masking or proof of vaccination as a condition of entry.

Any person two years or older who is medically able to tolerate a face covering must wear an appropriate mask while in any indoor space, regardless of vaccination status where masking is required under the new requirements. However, businesses and venues may elect to implement a vaccination requirement, requiring proof of vaccination as a condition of entry inside the business or venue. Whichever choice is selected must apply to all individuals within the business, including staff, patrons, visitors, and guests.

A violation of any provision of the measure is subject to all civil and criminal penalties, including a maximum fine of $1,000 for each violation as enforced by local health departments. Pursuant to regulation, individuals or businesses and venues that violate the determination are subject to a fine for each individual violation.