NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Gov. Kathy Hochul’s new mask rules took effect Monday across New York state.
Face coverings are now required in all indoor public spaces, unless the business or venue requires vaccinations.READ MORE: Health Officials Tracking New 'Stealth' Omicron Variant Spreading In Europe, Detected In U.S.
The new statewide mandate is designed to have everyone following the same COVID rules from Buffalo to the Bronx, CBS2’s Christina Fan reported.
On the surface, it appears businesses were embracing the governor’s order. Signs were up Monday across the state.
But inside, CBS2 saw very little compliance, and workers said there is good reason why.
Signs and even physical props hang outside businesses on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, reminding visitors a new mask mandate is in place. But shoppers didn’t seem to be interpreting mandatory the same way.
“As a matter of fact, I just came out of the market. I walked in, I had it on. I saw that the majority of people didn’t have it on so I just took it off,” said Joe Taverna of Orange County.
“I’m not a big fan, especially if you are vaccinated,” a woman said.
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After a six-month hiatus, a statewide mask mandate is back, meaning any indoor business that doesn’t check for vaccines must enforce face coverings.
Stores that don’t obey could face fines up to $1,000.
But employees said obeying comes with consequences, too.
“It’s 50/50. You get some people, they are like, okay, no problem. Some people, they feel violated, offended,” said Angela Elio of Tino’s Deli.READ MORE: Just Days After Testing Positive For COVID, Sarah Palin Spotted Dining At Manhattan Restaurant
“It was a lot of confrontation with the customers and us. Like, we’ll get cursed at,” added Linda Figueroa of Addeo Bakery.
“I feel everyone’s sick of it. I know I’m sick of it. I’m waiting for a mask-burning party. We have mask fatigue,” Vincent Garcia of Hell’s Kitchen told CBS2’s Dick Brennan.
But Garcia said he will follow the rules, and he’s not alone.
“We gotta do what we gotta do. It’s very simple. Wear a mask,” added Lawrence Murray of Hell’s Kitchen.
And who will be enforcing the rules? People like Peter Cerasuolo at Sacco’s Pizza on Ninth Avenue.
When asked if he’s concerned about people giving him and his employees a hard time, Cerasuolo said, “Thank God we haven’t crossed that path yet. We’re lucky.”
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When questioned Monday, Gov. Hochul once again defended her new policy, stating it is necessary as the state faces a cold-weather surge in COVID-19 infections.
The number of cases and hospitalizations have both surged in recent weeks, especially in areas of upstate New York.
“If there are any acts of violence, that they are addressed locally. I call on people to realize this a very minor infringement. Children have been doing this without much complaint for many months,” Hochul said.
While businesses are reluctant to enforce, they said it doesn’t mean they don’t support mask wearing. Nobody wants numbers to continue trending the wrong way.
“We couldn’t afford here in downtown Brooklyn to go back to mass shutdowns and getting people vaccinated is how we stay out of that reality,” said Regina Meyer, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership.
The state-wide positivity rate is currently hovering around 5%. The indoor mask mandate will be in effect until at least Jan. 15, when Hochul will reassess COVID conditions.MORE NEWS: New York Workers' Compensation Board Offers Resources For COVID Long Haulers
CBS2’s Dick Brennan and John Dias contributed to this report, which first appeared on Dec. 13.