The New York State mask mandate has taken effect and many are looking for clarity on what this means.

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On Friday, December 10, 2021, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced she would be requiring masks to be worn inside all public places in New York unless a place enforces a vaccine requirement.

Hochul said her decision was based on the State's "weekly seven-day case rate as well as increasing hospitalizations." The indoor mask mandate will be in effect from Monday, December 13, 2021, to Januar y 15, 2022, after which the mandate will be re-evaluated.

Is There a Penalty for Businesses That Don’t Enforce the Mask Mandate?

Yes. Businesses can be fined up to $1,000 if they do not require individuals to wear a mask (unless the business has vaccine requirements). That fine of up to $1,000 is not a one-time fine, it is per violation.

If Someone Is Vaccinated, Do They Still Have To Wear a Mask?

Yes. Unless the business requires proof of full vaccination, you will have to wear a mask. The only time masks will not be required in an indoor setting is when a person is physically eating or drinking.

Do I Have To Wear a Mask if I Have a Religious or Medical Exemption?

According to the National Law Review, this is a murky area. The National Law Review explains that this subject wasn't completely detailed in the announcement made by Hochuil, saying, "It is not clear yet how this impacts businesses that allow entry to an individual who has an exemption to an existing vaccination mandate."

What Is a Business Vaccine Requirement?

A vaccine requirement is when a business or venue requires any person aged 12 or older to show proof that they have been fully vaccinated before they will be allowed to enter. Businesses that have implemented a vaccine requirement will not allow anyone aged 12 or older to enter their establishment if they are unable to show that they have been fully vaccinated.

What Does Fully Vaccinated Mean?

According to the CDC, being fully vaccinated means that it has been at least 14 days since a person received their last vaccination dose of either the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

What Is New York State’s COVID Positivity Rate?

The state-wide COVID positivity rate in New York is just under five percent. According to Governor Hochul, ten percent of hospitals in the state aren't able to handle the surge in cases. Hochul said, "Since Thanksgiving, the statewide seven-day average case rate has increased by 43% and hospitalizations have increased by 29%."

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