If you’re entering a store or place of business anywhere in New York State, it will now be a requirement to wear a mask.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday he is signing an executive order that would allow a shopkeeper to refuse service to anyone who is not wearing a face covering.
The order comes as the issue of face masks has become a flash point nationwide, with people in some areas of the country claiming that it infringes on their civil liberties.
Cuomo dismissed those arguments, stressing that masks limit the transmission of COVID-19.
“That store owner has a right to protect themselves. That store owner has a right to protect the other patrons in that store,” he said. “You don’t want to wear a mask? Fine, but you don’t have a right to go into that store if that store owner doesn’t want you to.”
Asked whether the order may invite confrontations, several of which have turned violent elsewhere in the country, the governor shrugged off the possibility.
“It’s New York. You could have a conflict if you say good morning,” Cuomo said.
Westchester Waiting on Camp Guidelines
County Executive George Latimer said the county is awaiting guidance from the state to help make its decision on county day camp for this summer.
State health officials have said they have been trying to develop safe guidelines for camps, but Cuomo has expressed concerns about that possibility, particularly with more than 160 cases of pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome still being investigated by the Department of Health.
“If we can’t get a clearance to open them sometime soon, then you can’t gear them up to open them up on the front end, and it’s very hard to have any value if you’re only open for a couple of weeks,” Latimer said.
On Wednesday, North Castle Supervisor Michael Schiliro said that the town’s summer day camp program has been canceled, the latest municipality to follow suit.
Pleasantville, Mount Pleasant, Greenburgh, Yorktown and Cortlandt are among the municipalities that have called off their camp programs for this year.
Mount Kisco Mayor Gina Picinich said this week there has been no decision yet by the village on its summer camp. She indicated that any decision will be made at the latest possible date.
However, the village is hopeful that it will be able to open its municipal pool at Leonard Park for at least part of the summer, she said. If given a go-ahead, the village can have it ready in about a week Picinich said.
Under the state’s reopening guidelines, the start of each of the four phases would likely need to be two weeks apart provided the state’s seven metrics monitoring infection rates, hospitalizations, deaths and testing meet the required thresholds, Latimer said.
Phase I in Westchester and Putnam counties along with the remainder of the Mid-Hudson region started Tuesday, and would advance to Phase II, which includes retail and professional offices, on June 9. The third phase would be on June 23 would include restaurants and hotels while the final phase could begin July 7, which comprises recreation, education and arts and entertainment.
Through Wednesday, all regions of the state that have had a Phase I reopening remain within the guidelines. New York City continues to need hospital bed and ICU bed capacity along with getting contact tracers trained before it can begin.
Cuomo said the state will concentrate on helping the areas of the city in predominantly minority neighborhoods that have been beset with an infection rate that is double compared to the rest of the five boroughs.
Statewide, 74 residents died on Wednesday from COVID-19-related illness. New virus-related hospitalizations continue to fall, with 163 recorded on Wednesday.
In Westchester, the death toll reached 1,357 while in Putnam it stands at 59. Current active cases in Westchester are at 1,501, down from nearly 12,000 about seven weeks ago, Latimer said.