New mask mandate in effect for N.Y.

December 13, 2021

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced last week that masks will be required to be worn in all indoor public places across New York state—unless businesses/venues implement a vaccine requirement—starting Monday, Dec. 13, 2021.

What this means for your business

What are the requirements?

Any person, two years of age or older, must wear an appropriate mask while in any indoor place, regardless of vaccination status. However, businesses and venues can choose to implement a vaccination requirement—requiring proof of vaccination as a condition of entry inside the business or venue.

Does this apply to insurance agencies?

Yes. The mandate applies to all indoor public places.Indoor public place is defined as any indoor space that is not a private residence. This means businesses and venues that are either publicly owned or owned by private business entities. This includes indoor entertainment venues, concert halls, indoor sports stadiums, recreational spaces, restaurants, office buildings, shopping centers, grocery stores, pharmacies, houses of worship and common areas in residential buildings.

Does it apply to office spaces?

Yes. The requirement applies to all non-private residences, including office spaces.

Can I require unvaccinated individuals to wear a mask and vaccinated individuals to not?

No. Business can choose between requiring masks or showing proof of vaccination. Whichever option is selected, it must apply to all within the business/venue’s capacity, including staff, patrons, visitors and guests. A business/venue cannot do a combination requirement.

Doe this mandate applies to employees?

Yes. It applies to all individuals who are present at a business including staff, patrons and visitors.

If my office requires masks, when are staff allowed to remove them?

If the office does not require proof of vaccination as a condition of entry, everyone must always wear masks regardless of vaccination status, except when eating, drinking, or alone in an enclosed room.

How long is this mandate in place?

This measure is effective Dec. 13, 2021, until Jan. 15, 2022, after which New York state will re-evaluate the mandate, based on current conditions.

What sort of proof of vaccination is required?

Businesses and venues that implement a proof of vaccination requirement must ensure that anyone 12 years of age or older is fully vaccinated before entering indoors. Businesses/venues can accept Excelsior PassExcelsior Pass Plus, SMART Health Cards issued outside of New York state, full-course vaccination through NYC COVID Safe app, a CDC Vaccination Card, or other official immunization record. Businesses can download the Excelsior Pass Scanner app to help verify vaccine status.

Who will enforce the mandate, and is there a penalty if a business does not follow the mandate? 

Enforcement will be done by the local health departments, and the maximum civil penalty is a $1,000 fine.

Where can I go for more information?

Those who are looking for more information about the mandate can visit the New York state coronavirus’s website for frequently asked questions.

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About the author…

Bradford J. Lachut, Esq.

Bradford J. Lachut, Esq., joined PIA as government affairs counsel for the Government & Industry Affairs Department in 2012 and then, after a four-month leave, he returned to the association in 2018 as director of government & industry affairs responsible for all legal, government relations and insurance industry liaison programs for the five state associations. Prior to PIA, Brad worked as an attorney for Steven J. Baum PC, in Amherst, and as an associate attorney for the law office of James Morris in Buffalo. He also spent time serving as senior manager of government affairs as the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, a chamber of commerce serving the Buffalo, N.Y., region, his hometown. He received his juris doctorate from Buffalo Law School and his Bachelor of Science degree in Government and Politics from Utica College, Utica, N.Y. Brad is an active Mason and Shriner.

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