ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday announced that she was instituting a statewide mask mandate for all businesses and venues in her state, effective Dec. 13.
Under Hochul's order, businesses that require proof of vaccination to enter are exempt from the mandate. The policy applies to anyone ages two years old and older, any time they are indoors at a business or venue.
The mandate will remain in effect until Jan. 15, when the state will re-evaluate the situation based on COVID-19 data.
"As Governor, my two top priorities are to protect the health of New Yorkers and to protect the health of our economy," Hochul said in a statement. "The temporary measures I am taking today will help accomplish this through the holiday season. We shouldn't have reached the point where we are confronted with a winter surge, especially with the vaccine at our disposal, and I share many New Yorkers' frustration that we are not past this pandemic yet."
Hochul also thanked the 80% of New Yorkers who are currently fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
"If others will follow suit, these measures will no longer be necessary," her statement read.
Hochul's office cited increases in both the seven-day average case rate (up 43%) and hospitalizations (up 29%) for the new policy.
The state's mask policies remain unchanged for schools, public transit, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes and health care settings.
I share New Yorkers’ frustration that we are not past this pandemic, but the winter surge is here & we must take action.— Kathy Hochul (@GovKathyHochul) December 10, 2021
Starting Monday through January 15, businesses will have the option to implement either a vaccine or mask requirement. 1/
To the more than 80% of New Yorkers who have done the right thing to get fully vaccinated: Thank you. Let’s get more New Yorkers vaccinated so we can put this pandemic in the rear view mirror. 3/3— Kathy Hochul (@GovKathyHochul) December 10, 2021
This story was originally published by August Erbacher on Scripps station WKBW in Buffalo, New York.