ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A mask mandate is back in New York state.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Friday that due to rising COVID-19 rates statewide, masks will be required to be worn in all indoor public places unless businesses or venues implement a vaccine requirement.

“We are entering a time of uncertainty,” Gov. Hochul said Friday morning while speaking at the Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center at Goddard Riverside in New York City. “We can either plateau here or our cases can escalate beyond control. We are heading in an upward direction that I find is no longer sustainable.”

This measure is effective December 13, 2021 until January 15, 2022, after which the state will re-evaluate based on current conditions. The new business and venue requirements extend to both patrons and staff.

According to state officials, this determination is based on the state’s weekly seven-day case rate as well as increasing hospitalizations. Officials from the governor’s office say, since Thanksgiving, the statewide seven-day average case rate has increased by 43% and hospitalizations have increased by 29%. New York recorded more than 68,000 positive tests for the virus in the seven-day period that ended Wednesday — the most in any seven-day stretch since the start of February.

A violation of any provision of this measure is subject to all civil and criminal penalties, including a maximum fine of $1,000 for each violation. According to the governor, the respective business would face the fine for a violation, not an individual for not wearing a mask.

Local health departments are being asked to enforce these requirements, officials from the governor’s office say.    

From the governor’s office

Business/Venue Proof of Full-Course Vaccination Requirement

Businesses and venues that implement a proof of vaccination requirement can accept Excelsior Pass, Excelsior Pass Plus, SMART Health Cards issued outside of New York State, or a CDC Vaccination Card. In accordance with CDC’s definition of fully vaccinated, full-course vaccination is defined as 14 days past an individual’s last vaccination dose in their initial vaccine series (14 days past the second shot of a two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine; 14 days past the one-shot Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine). The State also accepts WHO-approved vaccines for these purposes. Parents and guardians can retrieve and store an Excelsior Pass and/or Excelsior Pass Plus for children or minors under legal guardianship.    

Business/Venue Mask-Wearing Requirement

Businesses and venues that implement a mask requirement must ensure all patrons two years and older wear a mask at all times while indoors.    

Continued Masking Requirements

Unvaccinated individuals continue to be responsible for wearing masks, in accordance with federal CDC guidance. Further, the State’s masking requirements continue to be in effect for pre-K to grade 12 schools, public transit, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes, and health care settings per CDC guidelines.    

New York State and the State’s Department of Health continue to strongly recommend mask-wearing in all public indoor settings as an added layer of protection, even when not required. Children 2 – 5 who remain ineligible for vaccination must wear a proper-fitting mask.

COVID-19 vaccines and booster doses are free and widely available statewide. New Yorkers can visit vaccines.gov, text their ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find nearby locations. To schedule an appointment at a state-run mass vaccination site, New Yorkers can visit the Am-I-Eligible site. New Yorkers can also contact their health care provider, county health departments, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), rural health centers, or pharmacies.

New Yorkers can retrieve their Excelsior Pass or Excelsior Pass Plus here. Businesses and venues can download the Excelsior Pass Scanner app—free for any business nationwide and available in more than ten languages—here.