On Tuesday, officials from several counties across NY criticized Gov. Kathy Hochul’s sweeping mask mandate, calling it “silly,” “misguided,” and “unenforceable.” One rejected the rule as “Gestapo tactics,” and another said, “we’re not going to become the mask police.”
So far, 13 Republican-controlled counties in the state have officially refused to force businesses that are not requiring vaccine for admittance to make workers, visitors, and customers wear masks.
The counties in opposition to the mandate account for nearly one-fourth of all the state’s territories, excluding the five boroughs of New York City. One county involved is Nassau County, where incoming Republican County Executive-elect Bruce Blakeman has indicated he will also defy the order coming from the governor.
Hochul issued the mandate on Friday, requiring all offices, restaurants, shops, and other businesses across the state to require both staff and customers to either be vaccinated or wear masks. Owners found to be out of compliance will face fines of $1,000 per violation.
The governor attributed the new measure to those who remain unvaccinated. “This was completely avoidable – [a] completely avoidable circumstance,” she said. “This is a crisis of the unvaccinated.”
In addition to Nassau, four other counties – Rockland, Orange, Putnam, and Dutchess – are among the New York City suburbs with officials who are committed to defying the order.
Steve Neuhaus, Orange County Executive, said he opposes “using Gestapo tactics and going business to business to ask them if they are enforcing masking.” He added, “My health department has critical things to do that are more important than enforcing this and I think small businesses have been through enough already.”
Other executives shared similar statements; Marc Molinaro of Dutchess County said the county’s health commissioner issued a statement that recommended wearing masks in public places, but “it wasn’t a dictate.” Molinaro continued, “We don’t have the resources or even the desire to engage in a mandate that we don’t believe is going to produce a measurable outcome.”
ARTICLE: ELIZABETH HERTZBERG
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: BOSTON GLOBE