Mayor Eric Adams (D-New York City) has advised local stores to bar patrons from entry if they refuse to remove their face masks, saying that they are more likely to be hiding from police than from exposure to COVID.
Adams — who allowed mask mandates to persist in his city for small children in schools until the summer of 2022, and made no move to push for the state to lift mandates for public transit that lapsed in September of 2022 and that expired for hospitals and health care centers in February of 2023 — has now called for stores to implement no-mask policies in an effort to boost a facial recognition initiative aimed at slowing rampant crime across the city.
During an interview with 1010-WINS, the NYC Mayor explained, “Do not allow people to enter the store without taking off their face mask and then once they’re inside they can continue to wear if they so desire to do so. … When you see these mask-wearing people, oftentimes it’s not about being fearful of the pandemic. It’s fearful of the police catching [them] for their deeds.”
The facial recognition initiative is designed not just to combat shoplifting but to aid police in identifying repeat offenders and suspects who might also be tied to other, potentially more serious, criminal activity.
Adams went on to say that his intent was not to make anyone feel unsafe, adding that after lowering their mask upon entry, shoppers who wanted to put their masks back on due to concerns over their health would be permitted to do so.
The mayor also noted that the burden of ensuring shoppers adhered to the new policy would not be foisted off solely onto the business owners, saying that patrol officers would be added in areas where there were more retail stores, in part to assist with making sure patrons complied.
“We are beefing up our coverage in those BID [Business Improvement District] areas, those high shopping areas, and we’re also beefing up our surveillance and practices,” he explained. “So we have something called ‘paid detail,’ where you have uniformed officers are allowed during their off-duty hours to do some of the security at many of our stores and locations and that has always been successful.”