New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order Wednesday requiring people to wear masks in public, with a few caveats
ALBANY – Everyone in New York will be required to wear a mask or face covering in public — with a few caveats — as part of the state's ongoing effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order late Wednesday putting the mandate in place, arguing that the state has to stay vigilant after the infection rate showed signs of flattening in recent days.
But what happens if you disobey Cuomo's order? And is everyone subject to it?
Here are some answers to questions you might have:
What does Cuomo's mask order require?
Cuomo's mask order makes clear that anyone who is out in public New York and is unable to maintain social distance must wear a mask or a face covering over their mouth and nose.
The caveat is important. If you're out for a walk and you don't come within six feet of anyone else, you won't have to wear a mask.
But if you're in a crowded grocery store or picking up a takeout order or in any other situation where you'll be within six feet of someone, you will have to cover your nose an mouth with a mask or covering.
On Thursday, Cuomo said he would add another requirement: Anyone operating or riding on public transit must wear a mask or face covering, as well as anyone operating a for-hire vehicle (taxi, Uber, Lyft, etc.)
"This is a precaution for everyone that I think balances individual liberties with a social conscience," Cuomo said.
When does the order take effect?
Friday (April 17) at 8 p.m.
The order will remain in effect until Cuomo chooses to rescind it or until he declares an end to the state's coronavirus emergency, whichever comes first.
What if I don't have a mask?
Face masks have been somewhat difficult to come by in recent weeks, though online outlets like Etsy and eBay have become a haven for homemade masks.
But Cuomo made clear Wednesday that you don't need to have a mask, per se. You can cover your face with any sort of cloth face covering — a scarf, a T-shirt, or anything of the sort.
Does the mask order apply to everybody?
Almost everybody, yes.
The order applies to everybody over the age of 2. So, yes, even most young children will be required to wear a mask or face covering,
The only exception: If you have some sort of condition that makes covering your face medically intolerable, you don't have to wear a mask in public, according to Cuomo's order.
And what happens if I disobey the order?
Cuomo's executive order in a time of crisis essentially has the effect of law, meaning New York residents are required to follow it as long as on official state emergency exists.
But there are no penalties associated with Cuomo's mask order — or at least not yet.
At his daily coronavirus briefing Wednesday, Cuomo said local law enforcement will be asked to enforce the mask requirement as the state tries to stop the spread of the virus.
He acknowledged, however, that there are no penalties associated with the order, though he suggested the state could create a small fine if people don't comply.
The short answer: If you don't obey, you might get slapped with a stern warning.
Where can I read Cuomo's order?
It's available on Cuomo's website — governor.ny.gov — under the "Executive Order" section.
But we'll make it easy for you. The relevant portion of Cuomo's order states as follows:
Effective at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 17, 2020 any individual who is over age two and able to medically tolerate a face-covering shall be required to cover their nose and mouth with a mask or cloth face-covering when in a public place and unable to maintain, or when not maintaining, social distance.