With COVID-19 cases reaching a cautionary point in Croton-on-Hudson, village leaders have officially declared a public health emergency.
The declaration, which was made by Village Manager Janine King, will be in effect for the next 30 days unless otherwise lifted or extended. With the village in a State of Emergency since March 16, officials have the authority to issue emergency orders addressing the COVID-19 outbreak without a formal meeting to preserve public safety.
An emergency village law requiring face masks or coverings be worn on public, private and commercial properties when unable to maintain a six-foot distance from another person who is not a member of the same household will now be enforced. Residential property is exempt from the law.
The mandate was passed by the Village Board last month and only goes into effect if a public health emergency is issued.
The Croton-on-Hudson Police Department will be responsible for enforcing the law, with violators subject to an up to $100 penalty for the first violation, and an up to $250 fine for any subsequent violations occurring within a one-year period.
While Gov. Andrew Cuomo already has an executive order imploring folks to wear face masks, Mayor Brian Pugh has previously said it benefits the village to have its own law with specific regulations and fines authorized. New Castle and Yorktown also have emergency mask mandates in place.
As of Friday, the village had 48 cases, a number that has doubled since the Village Board agreed to pass its emergency mask mandate. Westchester County has 8,738 active cases, as of Monday.
Other exemptions to the law are children under the age of two or anyone who is unable to medically tolerate a face covering; drivers traveling alone or exclusively with members of their households in a car; and persons playing sports or participating in a fitness class or recreational activity who are unable to tolerate wearing a mask during physical activity.
A mask must be worn as soon as the physical activity has ended, the law states.
Additionally, individuals are not required to wear a mask or covering when eating, drinking, or seated at a restaurant. Police officers, fire fighters, ambulance personnel and other first responders are also excused from wearing a covering when engaged in an emergency.
Legislation ceases when the public health emergency expires.