All indoor public places across New York state must require masks for all people or proof of full vaccination prior to entry, a sweeping measure the governor announced Friday in an effort to curb a winter COVID surge that shows no signs of slowing.
It took effect Monday and covers any indoor space that is not a private residence.
New York joins several states that have reimposed similar indoor mask mandates, including Washington, Oregon, Illinois, New Mexico, Nevada and Hawaii, as some parts of the country grapple with some of their worst crises of the pandemic so far.
In the Big Apple, noncompliance with the new mandate comes with fines up to $1,000 for each violation. Local health departments are being asked to enforce the requirements, though not all appear inclined to play ball.
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The measure will be reassessed on Jan. 15. In the meantime, here's a look at options the affected places have as of Monday and top FAQs businesses, patrons and employees have about the new rules. Read the full text of the mandate.
1. Proof of Full-Course Vaccination Requirement
Businesses and venues that implement a proof-of-vaccination requirement can accept Excelsior Pass, Excelsior Pass Plus, SMART Health Cards issued outside of New York state or a CDC Vaccination Card.
In accordance with CDC's definition of fully vaccinated, full-course vaccination is defined as 14 days past an individual's last vaccination dose in their initial vaccine series (14 days past the second shot of a two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine; 14 days past the one-shot Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine).
The state also accepts WHO-approved vaccines for these purposes. Parents and guardians can retrieve and store an Excelsior Pass and/or Excelsior Pass Plus for children or minors under legal guardianship.
New Yorkers can retrieve their Excelsior Pass or Excelsior Pass Plus here. Businesses and venues can download the Excelsior Pass Scanner app -- free for any business nationwide and available in more than 10 languages -- here.
2. Mask-Wearing Requirement
Businesses and venues that implement a mask requirement must ensure all patrons 2 years and older wear a mask at all times while indoors.
3. Continued Masking Requirements
People who aren't vaccinated are still responsible for wearing masks, in accordance with federal CDC guidance. The state's masking requirements continue to be in effect for pre-K to grade 12 schools, public transit, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes and healthcare settings per CDC guidelines.
New York state continues to strongly recommend mask-wearing in all public indoor settings as an added layer of protection, even when not required. Children under 5 who remain ineligible for vaccination must wear a proper-fitting mask.
To schedule an appointment at a state-run mass vaccination site, New Yorkers can visit the Am-I-Eligible site or contact their health providers, county health departments, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), rural health centers or pharmacies.
New York City and New Jersey Vaccine Providers
Click on each provider to find more information on scheduling appointments for the COVID-19 Vaccine.
Data: City of New York, State of New Jersey • Nina Lin / NBC
4. State Answers FAQs on New Mask Mandate
These are some of the top FAQs the state has gotten and the answers in its words
- Does this mean vaccines aren't working? No! The State Department of Health has produced nation-leading studies, published in the CDC's MMWR and the New England Journal of Medicine, which demonstrate the COVID-19 vaccines' effectiveness - particularly in preventing severe disease. The Department continues to urge eligible New Yorkers of all ages to get fully vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible.
- Why implement this mandate? The new measure brings added layers of mitigation during the holidays when more time is spent indoors shopping, gathering, and visiting holiday-themed destinations. Since Thanksgiving, the statewide seven-day average case rate has increased by 43% and hospitalizations have increased by 29%. While the percentage of New Yorkers fully vaccinated continues to increase—gaining 2% from Thanksgiving weekend to now—the uptick is not fast enough to completely curb the spread of the virus, particularly among communities with low vaccination coverage.
- When will it end? The new requirements go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 13 through Jan. 15, 2022, at which time the state will re-evaluate its next steps.
- Do the new requirements supersede the previous requirements (issued in August) on indoor masking? Yes. This determination supersedes the Aug. 27, 2021 determination that required face masks in certain settings such as healthcare settings, schools, correctional facilities and while on public transport or in transportation hubs. These settings are all still covered under the current masking determination. You can read the state health commissioner’s Dec. 10, 2021 Determination Letter here.