On Wednesday, during New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s daily COVID-19 press briefing, the governor announced an executive order that would require all New Yorkers to wear masks or other face coverings when in public and unable to maintain proper social distance.
“I’m going to issue an executive order that says all people in public must have a mask or … mouth and nose covering, and they must wear it in a situation where you cannot or are not maintaining social distancing,” Cuomo said.
The governor explained further:
Meaning what? Meaning the same thing we’ve been saying from day one. If you are going to be in public, and you cannot maintain social distancing, then have a mask, and put the mask on when you are not in socially distanced places.
You’re walking down the street alone, great. You’re now at an intersection, and there are people in the intersection, and you’re going to be in proximity to other people, put the mask on. Your right to go out for a walk in the park because you need to get out of the house, the dog is getting on your nerves, fine, don’t infect me. You don’t have a right to infect me.
If you are going to be in a situation in public where you may come into contact with other people in a situation that is not socially distanced, you must have a mask or a cloth covering nose and mouth. That is by executive order.
If you’re going to get on public transit, you’re going to get on a bus, you’re going to get on a subway, you’re going to stand on a subway platform, you’re going to walk in a neighborhood that is busy, you’re going to be on a sidewalk, you’re gonna pass other people on the sidewalk, you’re not gonna be able to maintain social distancing, you must wear a mask or cloth or an attractive bandanna or a color-coordinated bandanna cloth – but you have to wear it in those situations.
“We’ll give people three-day notice to allow compliance just on the off chance that somebody doesn’t have a cloth covering or a mask, and we’ll go from there,” Cuomo stated, showing a slide that indicated that the policy will go into effect on Friday.
During the question and answer portion of the briefing, a reporter asked: “On the mask issue – so this will be any public space where there is congestion? We’re talking busy streets, stores? We’re just trying to get clarity on what this means.”
Cuomo replied, reiterating his previous statement about wearing face-coverings in places in which one “cannot maintain social distancing,” such as on public transportation, or in otherwise crowded areas. The reporter asked Cuomo to define specific distance as it pertains to the order, and the governor said “six feet,” which are the CDC’s guidelines for social distancing.
The reporter followed up, asking of there would be “penalties” for violating the executive order. The governor responded.
“There’s a possibility for a civil violation. You could get a penalty. You know, you jaywalk, theoretically, you get a penalty. Local governments would enforce it,” Cuomo said.
The governor added that while he doesn’t “want to go to a penalty yet” because there hasn’t been “flagrant noncompliance,” he stated again that “if people don’t follow it, we could do a civil penalty.”
“You’re not gonna to jail for not wearing your mask … but for now, no, there’s no civil penalty,” Cuomo said, adding that localities should begin to enforce it, and that he believes civilians will self-enforce the order as well.
The governor also tweeted about the executive order:
For example, if you are riding on public transit where it is impossible to maintain social distancing, or walking on a busy sidewalk, you must wear a face covering like a bandana or a mask.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) April 15, 2020
While the state of New York is experiencing a downward trend in COVID-19 intubations and ICU admissions, according to Governor Cuomo, it appears that the state has reached a high plateau of single-day COVID-19 deaths. It’s unclear how long it will be until the single-day deaths begin to decline.
On Tuesday, there were 752 deaths. This number is in line with those of the previous week, aside from a dip on April 12 to 671 single-day deaths.