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Some counties refuse to enforce new mask mandate in New York as it begins

By Derick Waller

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    NASSAU COUNTY, New York (WABC) — The newest New York State mask mandate is in effect again.

Governor Hochul argues returning to masks is about protecting New Yorkers from COVID and its variants, especially heading into the holiday season.

Health experts believe the current surge in COVID is being fueled partly by colder weather, which is driving people indoors, as well as the delta variant and the omicron variant, which are both spreading.

The Queens/Nassau border is the difference between having to wear a mask or not, because of course if you want to dine indoors, or go the gym in the city, you’ve got to be vaccinated. That’s not the case on Long Island.

Governor Kathy Hochul says any business that is not already requiring proof of vaccination will need to have everyone mask up indoors.

The vax or mask mandate is in effect until at least January 15 as a way to combat a winter surge of COVID cases, the governor says, without needing to resort to another shutdown.

Local health departments would be tasked with enforcement, potentially even handing out $1,000 fines.

Brooklyn Diocese says it was announced at all masses this weekend in Brooklyn and Queens that under the state’s mandate, masks must be worn during services.

Business owners, workers, and customers have mixed opinions.

“It’s just putting us at physical risk. I’ve seen different situations where people ask for masks or vaccine card and it became physical. I don’t want to put us in that situation,” said Kamesha Salmon, TP Toys and Accessories, Owner.

“As long as we stay normal and do things. Have a drink. Go to the supermarket. Go to dinner. I’m ok with it,” said Theresa Blaho, a customer.

“Nobody wants another shutdown. That’s for sure. We’re going to do whatever we can to prevent that,” said Delia Walters, a manager.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said although the city is focusing on vaccination he respects the governor’s decision to issue the mask mandate and said they are working with businesses to make sure it is being followed.

“We want a high level of compliance, but we want to do it in a cooperative way,” Mayor de Blasio said.

But some Republican county executives in the state say they aren’t going to enforce it, including in Dutchess and Rockland counties, as well as incoming Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman.

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