NYers must wear mask or covering when not maintaining social distancing in public

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said all New Yorkers must wear face coverings when social distancing is not possible, including on public transport, in stores and on crowded sidewalks

Imposing a stricter measure to control the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Wednesday that he would start requiring people in New York to wear masks or face coverings in public whenever social distancing was not possible.

The order will take effect on Friday and will apply to people who are unable to keep six feet away from others in public settings, such as on a bus or subway, on a crowded sidewalk or inside a grocery store.

“Stopping the spread is everything,” Mr. Cuomo said during his daily briefing in Albany. “How can you not wear a mask when you’re going to come close to a person?”

The new requirements are bound to make face coverings an inescapable and perhaps jarring sight in New York City for the foreseeable future. They could also introduce a level of mutual obligation and civic duty about wearing masks in public that is more firmly established in Asia than in the West.

Maryland also announced on Wednesday that it would require people to wear masks in public.

Mr. Cuomo said local governments would enforce the order, but he noted that riders without face coverings would not be ejected from public transit. The pandemic has devastated New York’s public transit system, with 59 workers having died of the virus and 2,269 testing positive for the infection.

The state would consider issuing civil penalties to people who fail to abide by the order, but not criminal penalties: “You’re not going to go to jail for not wearing a mask,” Mr. Cuomo said.

Permitted face coverings include proper masks, as well as scarves or bandannas, the governor said.

A similar rule was issued in New Jersey last week. The order, issued by Gov. Philip D. Murphy, made it mandatory for all people inside stores and other essential businesses to wear face coverings unless they are under 2 years old or have a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask.The mandates were the latest public safety measures from two states that are at the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States. New York and New Jersey have worked in tandem since the outbreak reached the region, shuttering nonessential businesses at the same time and recently forming a coalition with neighboring states to coordinate the reopening of their economies.

In announcing Maryland’s order on masks in public settings, Gov. Larry Hogan said, “The wearing of masks is something we may have to become more accustomed to in order to safely reopen our state.”

New York, New Jersey and Maryland are so far the only states to have issued broad orders mandating face coverings in most public settings, according to the most recent information from the National Governors Association. Puerto Rico and Guam have implemented similar measures.

Nonbinding guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourage people to wear face coverings in settings where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain to prevent the transmission of the virus. The infection spreads primarily through droplets generated when, for instance, a sick person coughs or sneezes.

That federal recommendation was issued after research showed that many people were infected with the virus but did not show symptoms.

Across New Jersey, businesses were still grappling with the enforcement of the new rules, which some people have flouted, leading to arrests in some instances.


Panorama Hispano is the regional news and information newspaper for Hispanic and other diverse communities.

US Hispanics are now the largest ethnic minority in the United States numbering 54.2 million as of July 2014. Serving: Buffalo, Rochester, Fredonia, Niagara Falls, NY and Erie, PA. Outside our Market area: Visit our affiliate at: http://www.impremedia.com/

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