By Martin Wilbur and Anna Young
New Castle and Croton-on-Hudson allowed their mask mandates to sunset last week as both municipalities lifted their states of emergency.
The New Castle law, approved last July, required masks for everyone on public property as well as on some private property such as in places of business, although there was a list of exemptions.
Supervisor Ivy Pool said she rescinded the local state of emergency last Wednesday because the only aspect of the emergency that remained in effect was the mask ordinance. It also came after the Centers for Disease Control issued new guidance that masks do not need to be worn outside if a person is fully vaccinated and can maintain social distancing.
“I’m proud of the proactive response that we took to this incident and I’m also pleased to report that this action, along with the other public health measures that were enacted by the county and the state, really helped to control the spread of COVID-19 in New Castle,” Pool said.
Approval of the town’s mask legislation, the first of its kind in the state, was in response to the cluster of 27 COVID-19 cases that were linked to activities surrounding the Horace Greeley High School graduation last June and to provide the town’s police department the opportunity for enforcement.
Although Gov. Andrew Cuomo had called on the public to wear masks as early as April 2020, there wasn’t a mechanism to enforce the regulation.
The law required masks for everyone on public property as well as on some private property such as in places of business except for a list of specific exemptions.
While in effect, violators were subject to summonses carrying a fine of up to $250 for the first offense and $500 for each subsequent offense.
Pool said vaccination will be the solution to returning to as normal as possible.
“Our success really depends on the ability for folks to go out and get vaccinated,” she said. “Being able to continue down this path means everyone needs to be able to do their part.”
Croton Ends Emergency
In Croton-on Hudson, nearly five months after a public health emergency was declared, village officials also lifted the order last week as widespread availability of the COVID-19 vaccine has resulted in a sharp decline of active cases.
The emergency order was rescinded by Village Manager Janine King on Apr. 29, with the village reporting only six coronavirus cases. When the order was enacted, the village had 48 active cases, a number that fluctuated during the holiday season.
The village’s emergency declaration, which was enacted on Dec. 15, was renewed every 30 days and required 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. Residential property was exempted from the emergency order.
The order also required individuals playing sports, participating in fitness classes or recreational activities to wear a mask or face covering. Police officers, firefighters, ambulance personnel and other first responders engaged in public safety situations were also required to be masked.
Those who violated the law were subject to a maximum fine of $1,000 for each infraction.
Since March 2020, Croton-on-Hudson has reported 761 cases of COVID-19.