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Bringing you closer to home, the New York City, just like the rest of New York, has had its share of madness and confusion arising from the chaos caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Essentially, there are two buckets – the mask mandates and vaccination policies. Recently, when it comes to the vaccination policy, there has been a restraining order for the religious exemptions and medical exemptions. As of now, you can be denied; at least not until it is reviewed again. On the other hand, when it comes to the mask mandates, the story is different all together, which prompted us to prepare a video titled “No, The Law Does Not Require You To Wear A Mask (99% Of The Time).” We have provided you with a link to access it at the end of this blog.
You have probably had someone or some entity/premise say that they are complying with the city and, therefore, they require people to have their masks on. However, is there any special guidance about this? In our YouTube video posted on August 27, 2021, and blog published on August 31, 2021, we mentioned about the Emergency Executive Order No. 225 that was signed on August 16, 2021, and took effect on August 17, 2021. In this order, Mayor de Blasio announced new vaccination requirements for access to indoor recreation, dining, entertainment, and fitness centers within New York. However, it also mentioned that if (a) you can maintain 6 feet of distance or (b) wear a facemask, and you are (i) someone just jumping in a building for a moment, (ii) a performing artist; (iii) an athlete, or (iv) a non-resident accompanying an athlete or artist, the order exempts you from having to produce proof of vaccination. In light of these provisions, this blog acts as a hands-on guide that will help you to understand what the law in New York actually says about wearing masks. Without further ado, let us dive right in.
The New York City Code of Regulations is the current policy in New York that provides guidance regarding face coverings. Going down the list, this is a very short statute and it is not mandatory anymore. This implies that it is at the discretion of the commissioner in the Department of Health and, thus, if one wants to mandate it, they have to provide elaborate reasons why they would do so.
Section 2.60(a) of this policy is discretionary and not mandatory since they have replaced the term “shall” with “may.” Additionally, in line with the Emergency Executive Order No. 225, if you are able to maintain a distance of 6 feet at all times (observing social distance), the policy indicates that it is not mandatory to wear a mask. Thus, if you go anywhere in the New York City right now and they say that a mask is mandated, tell them that it is not mandated under the current law. However, you must be able to maintain a distance of 6 feet between you and the other person.
Under the policy, there may be only two instances of which it is mandatory. The first instance, as provided in Section 2.60(a), concerns whether the wearing of mask is regulated by some other regulation such as schools, public transport, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes, or other healthcare settings. The second instance, as provided in Section 2.60(c), indicates that it is mandatory to wear a mask if it is an indoor venue with more than 5000 people in attendance. Well, rarely do you have 5000 people in a venue at once, unless we are talking about huge events like concerts, basketball games, or soccer.
Taking one step back, Section 2.60(b) of the policy indicate that if wearing of masks is required, the entity or premise is supposed to give it to you (you do not have to pay for it or provide for yourself). This means that if you are going to a venue and 5,000 people have attended, then they are supposed to provide you with what you need at the entrance.
Moving on, Section 2.60(d) of the policy indicates that the entity or premise is not supposed to deny you services just because you are wearing a face covering. That is a spin right there, which implies that they are not allowed to deny you services if you wear one, except in the event that it obscures your identity. For instance, you can be denied services and even get in trouble if you walk in a bank covering all your face.
Next, Section 2.60(e) is simply concerned with defining and describing what a face covering is from the perspective of the law and based on the concept of masks.
Further, Section 2.60(f) talks about the violations, which is $1,000 in fines, but for each day of operation and not for every individual. It does not imply that if you have 5000 people in a venue and a violation occurs, every person has to pay $1,000. Rather, a clever mathematician knows that if 5,000 people contribute 20 cents of a dollar, you could easily beat the violation mandate.
In short, there is no mandate in the New York City that requires you to wear a mask 99% of the time. Thus, a business should not harass you for not wearing a mask in the name of compliancy and yet you have maintained your 6 feet distance, the venue does not have 5,000 people in attendance, or the mandate is not regulated by some other regulation, including the six categories mentioned above.
We invite you to review our video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldWlna-Kup4
As usual, stay tuned for more guidance and counsel and always be #UnusuallyMotivated. In the interim, if there are any questions or comments, please let us know at the Contact Us page!
Unvaccinated, Unmasked, Unafraid, and Unusually Motivated!
Always rising above the bar,
Legal Writer & Author.