ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a new mask mandate for New York state Friday and businesses are already preparing for the change.
The governor said due to rising COVID-19 rates statewide, masks will be required to be worn in all indoor public places unless businesses or venues implement a vaccine requirement.
The new business and venue requirements extend to both patrons and staff. This measure is effective Dec. 13, 2021 until Jan. 15, 2022, after which the state will re-evaluate based on current conditions.
Wegmans stores in New York state will begin requiring masks for customers — all employees are already required to wear face masks in stores — beginning Monday. According to the Wegmans Customer and Employee Mask Policy, which was updated Friday:
“We strongly encourage all customers, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a face mask while shopping with us. Where mandated at the state or local level, customers are required to wear a face mask. All employees are required to wear a face mask in our stores.“
Officials from Tops Friendly Markets said Friday that the grocery store chain will comply with the new mandate, effective Monday. In a statement, Tops officials said:
“We are just learning of Governor Kathy Hochul’s mandate ordering all patrons and public-facing workers to wear face masks, effective Monday, December 13, 2021. As we have done in the past, Tops will continue to comply with whatever mandates are in place. Our employees have been required to wear masks in our stores since August 2021.
“We appreciate you seeking permission to film at Tops but due to the sensitivity on this topic we are declining the interview of associates and customers.”
A violation of any provision of this measure is subject to all civil and criminal penalties, including a maximum fine of $1,000 for each violation. According to the governor, the respective business would face the fine for a violation, not an individual for not wearing a mask.
Local health departments are being asked to enforce these requirements, officials from the governor’s office say.
Several states already have mask mandates in place, including New Mexico, Nevada, Hawaii.
Officials from the governor’s office say, since Thanksgiving, the statewide seven-day average case rate has increased by 43% and hospitalizations have increased by 29%. New York recorded more than 68,000 positive tests for the virus in the seven-day period that ended Wednesday — the most in any seven-day stretch since the start of February.
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.