New York state has been ordered to mask up once again, with a new COVID mandate going into effect on Monday. But one county outside of NYC is pushing back against the new rules and is refusing to cooperate with Gov. Kathy Hochul's latest orders.
Across the state, any business that doesn't have a vaccination policy will need to require all inside wear masks while indoors. Hochul ordered the change after a surge in COVID cases and hospitalizations, bringing New York back to the days when the pandemic was at its peak.
But the mandate isn't sitting well with Rockland County officials, who said that they will not enforce it. However, their objection doesn't have to do with not wanting to wear face masks, but rather the governor's implementation of the order.
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"This is not about masks, people can wear masks. It's about how do you roll out a plan," said Rockland County Executive Ed Day, who expressed his frustration with the mandate.
He said that the county's health department is busy running six vaccination clinics, which remains their top priority. Day said that the county simply does not have the manpower to enforce the new rules.
"It's not that we don't respect that, it's a health order. But what we're saying is: we're not going to fire people, we're not going to turn and around and send civilian inspectors out and compromise resources that are actually getting the vaccinations done," Day said.
The owner of a screen printing shop in Nyack thinks Day's defiance sends a bad message during the all-important holiday shopping season.
"The county executive doesn't own the businesses in Rockland County," said shop owner Steven Carroll. "We have a sign up that says masks are required, and we enforce it when people walk in the door, and I have plenty of masks to give out ... It puts us in a bad position as business owners."
Other shop workers don't feel so conflicted by the governor and county butting heads.
"I'm still a believer in that people should do the right thing, but I'm not here to force you or make you do what you don't want to do," said Emily Theakston.
The mask mandate comes as the city hits a milestone in vaccinations, as 90% of all adults in NYC have received at least their first dose. Starting Tuesday, all children ages 5-11 in the city will need to show proof of their first shot in order to do things like eat inside restaurants or go to entertainment venues, like Broadway.