NEW YORK (WETM) — Governor Kathy Hochul’s statewide mask mandate remains in effect Tuesday, after a judge issued an order staying a New York State Supreme Court decision that found the mandate unconstitutional.
Judge Thomas Rademaker of Nassau County wrote Monday that the governor does not have the authority to impose the mandate since emergency powers are no longer in place.
The court document states, “While the intentions of Commissioner Bassett and Governor Hochul appear to be well aimed squarely at doing what they believe is right to protect the citizens of New York State, they must take their case to the State Legislature.”
State officials filed an appeal to the court’s ruling Tuesday. The stay was issued hours later.
The mandate was enacted by Gov. Hochul last month, requiring face coverings in schools and other public places, in order to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 omicron variant.
New York State Commissioner of Education Betty Rosa issued a statement Tuesday confirming the stay means students will be required to continue masking in schools, saying:
“We are pleased the Appellate Division granted the application by the Department of Health and the Governor’s office, confirming the lower court’s decision is stayed pending further proceedings. As such, the mask mandate remains in effect for schools across the state. We support Governor Hochul and the state Department of Health as they continue with the appeal. We thank the members of our school communities for their patience during this process.“
Governor Hochul released the following statement in regards to Tuesday’s ruling:
“As Governor, my top priority is protecting the people of this state. These measures are critical tools to prevent the spread of COVID-19, make schools and businesses safe, and save lives. I commend the Attorney General for her defense of the health and safety of New Yorkers, and applaud the Appellate Division, Second Department for siding with common sense and granting an interim stay to keep the state’s important masking regulations in place. We will not stop fighting to protect New Yorkers, and we are confident we will continue to prevail.”
New York State Attorney General Letitia James also released a statement Tuesday, saying:
“Nearly three years into the COVID-19 pandemic, we know that wearing a mask saves lives. This mandate and today’s decision are critical in helping to stop the spread of this virus and protect individuals young and old. We will continue to do everything in our power to prioritize the health and wellbeing of all New Yorkers.”
State Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt issued a statement, saying:
“I am disappointed the Appellate Division issued a stay that will keep the unconstitutional mask mandate in place while the appeals process plays out in the courts.
We are two years into this pandemic, and it’s absurd that this administration is still ruling by mandates – which continue to cause confusion, frustration, and division among New Yorkers.
If the Governor truly thinks a mask mandate is in the best interests of New Yorkers, she should send a bill to be debated before the Legislature.
New Yorkers are fed up — it’s time to move beyond one-size fits all mandates and return to a system that provides checks and balances.“
Governor Hochul issued the following statement Monday evening:
“My responsibility as Governor is to protect New Yorkers throughout this public health crisis, and these measures help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and save lives. We strongly disagree with this ruling, and we are pursuing every option to reverse this immediately.”
The State Education Department also issued a statement, saying students will likely be required to continue following the masking rules. That statement reads:
“The State Education Department understands that Nassau County Supreme Court has ruled that the Department of Health exceeded its authority in enacting the mask regulation, 10 NYCRR 2.60, in Demetriou et al. v. New York State Dep’t of Health et al. This regulation is the subject of conflicting decisions, insofar as Albany County Supreme Court recently upheld the regulation in Massapequa UFSD et al. v. Hochul, et al.
It is SED’s understanding that the Department of Health will appeal the Nassau County Supreme Court decision, which will result in an automatic stay that will unambiguously restore the mask rule until such time as an appellate court issues a further ruling. Therefore, schools must continue to follow the mask rule.”
State Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt released a statement Monday evening, saying:
Nearly two years ago, New York became the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our state was shut down, our schools were closed, and our economy was decimated.
Nearly 700 days later, today’s ruling by a NYS Supreme Court Judge reinforces what my Republican colleagues and I have said from the beginning: it’s past time for Governor Hochul and Democrat One-Party Rule to end the mandates.
New Yorkers are fed up — and they are counting on us to return to a system of governance based on collaborative decision making, guidance, checks and balances.