The broad definition of “indoor public place” extends the new mask requirement to all private employers.
In anticipation of the winter holiday season, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced a new mask mandate that will apply to all businesses and venues that do not require proof of vaccination as a condition of entry.
Specifically, businesses and venues that do not require proof of vaccination must implement a mask requirement for all persons over the age of 2 who are medically able to tolerate a mask, regardless of vaccination status. “Indoor public place” is defined as any indoor space that is not a private residence. The broad definition of “indoor public place” extends the new mask requirement to all private employers.
This requirement is in effect from December 13, 2021, until January 15, 2022, after which the state will reevaluate it based on current conditions. Violators of the mask mandate will be subject to fines of up to $1,000 for each violation.
In conjunction with the governor’s announcement, the state health commissioner issued a determination solidifying this requirement. The determination also addressed the existing mask mandates that continue for (1) personnel and visitors in healthcare settings and adult care facilities, (2) teachers, staff, students and visitors to pre-K through 12th grade schools, (3) incarcerated/detained persons and staff in correctional and detention centers, (4) clients, visitors, staff and volunteers at homeless shelters (including overnight emergency shelters, day shelters and meal service providers) and (5) all persons on public transportation conveyances and at transportation hubs.
New York’s mask mandate is similar to the new set of mask mandates announced by Philadelphia’s Department of Public Health that went into effect on August 12, 2021, which we reported on in a previous Alert.
Governor Hochul’s announcement comes on the heels of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s pronouncement of a first-in-the-nation COVID-19 vaccination mandate for private sector employees, which will take effect on December 27, 2021, also reported on in a previous Alert.
New York City is slated to release guidance on the vaccine mandate on December 15, which will likely direct employers on the provision of reasonable accommodations based on disability and sincerely held religious beliefs that prevent certain employees and customers from receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. We anticipate that masking in settings with both vaccinated and unvaccinated employees will be addressed. In the meantime, employers and businesses that do not have vaccine mandates in place should prepare to immediately comply with the new masking requirements.
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