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Governor Kathy Hochul announces statewide mask mandate for New York effective December 13 for all businesses and venues

"We're entering a time of uncertainty"
Conditions that qualify as mask exemptions have smaller scope than many realize
Posted at 10:02 AM, Dec 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-10 17:28:46-05

ALBANY, N.Y. (WKBW) — Governor Kathy Hochul has announced a statewide mask mandate for all businesses and venues in New York State, effective December 13.

Businesses or venues that require proof of vaccination to enter will be exempt from the mandate.

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Governor Kathy Hochul issuing a state-wide mask mandate.

"I've been warning about this for months now," declared Governor Hochul.

Governor Hochul says she's taking this major state-wide action to address a rising winter surge in COVID rates.

The policy, similar to phase one of Erie County's four-phase approach to curbing spread of COVID-19, will be in effective until January 15, when the state will re-evaluate based on COVID-19 data.

Governor Kathy Hochul's office cited increases in both the seven-day average case rate (up 43%) and hospitalizations (up 29%) for the new policy.

"We're entering a time of uncertainty and we could either plateau here or cases could escalate beyond control. We are starting upwards my friends. I've been watching this closely. We are headed in a direction that I find is no longer sustainable," Hochul explained.

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Shoppers in North Tonawanda Friday.

The policy applies to anyone ages two years old and older, any time they are indoors at a business or venue.

"The rest of the state now has a wake-up call," Hochul noted.

But some business owners say they won't be checking vaccine cards.

“I’m not going to check peoples vaccinations. I would just assume that we wear masks here and they would as well,” replied Brett Zuckerman.

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Brett Zuckerman, owner, Empire Boards & Bikes.

Zuckerman owns a couple of different businesses, Empire Boards & Bikes Shop in North Tonawanda in Niagara County, where there has been no mask mandate in place.

Zuckerman says he's glad the mandate will be in place for the entire state to make it an equal playing ground for all business owners, but he will not ask his employees to check customers for vaccine states.

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Employee inside Empire Boards & Bikes.

“I don't want them to be in a position where they have to check,” Zuckerman responded.

Zuckerman's daughter, Skylar Zuckerman, is the manger of Twin City Deli just up the street and across the bridge in the City of Tonawanda in Erie County where there already is a mask mandate.

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Skylar Zuckerman, is the manger of Twin City Deli, City of Tonawanda.

“I believe it's a confusing to the consumers and families,” Zuckerman reflected.

Zuckerman says a statewide mandate should stop that confusion of mask wearing inside her shop.

“You have customers coming from N.T. side and they could be coming any where from the Lewiston area too and they come in and don't realize we are Erie County,” Zuckerman noted.

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This bridge crosses North Tonawanda & City of Tonawanda.

Governor Hochul says she is left with no choice to address the winter surge of COVID cases.

“I think it's going to be great our community just to be all as a whole — versus — separating everyone,” Zuckerman said.

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Inside Twin City Deli.

But at the deli, Zuckerman says it's mostly take-out, so they won't be checking vaccine cards.

“As far as checking vaccine cards, it's one of those iffy subjects right now I think some people feel that it's their right to keep it their property and then you have others who mandating you show it,” Zuckerman remarked.

The state's mask policies remain unchanged for schools, public transit, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes, and health care settings.