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New York State Supreme Court judge rules Gov. Hochul's mask mandate unconstitutional

Erie County mask mandate still in effect
Shopping masks
Posted at 7:38 PM, Jan 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-25 16:49:07-05

NEW YORK (WKBW) — A New York State Supreme Court judge based in Nassau County has ruled that Governor Kathy Hochul's mask mandate is unconstitutional.

The mask mandate for all public indoor spaces was put into effect back in December 2021 and was set to expire on February 1st.

Governor Hochul issued this statement on the ruling:

"My responsibility as Governor is to protect New Yorkers throughout this public health crisis, and these measures help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and save lives. We strongly disagree with this ruling, and we are pursuing every option to reverse this immediately."

Tuesday, the state appealed the ruling.

Erie County officials say this decision does not impact the mask mandate put in place locally.

A spokesperson for Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz issued this statement to 7 News Monday:

"Today’s Nassau county court ruling regarding the state’s mask mandate does not affect Erie County’s mask requirement, which is based in different state law. Erie County’s mask requirement remains in effect."

Poloncarz issued the following statement on Tuesday:

“Yesterday, a Nassau County State Supreme Court Judge issued a decision on the constitutionality of an order issued by New York State. The judge did not rule on the merits of a mask mandate, nor on the constitutionality of emergency orders issued by local governments. All local orders, including Erie County's, are still valid because they were issued under a different section of New York’s Executive Law.

As such, all prior Erie County emergency orders are still in full effect, including the emergency order issued on November 23, 2021 requiring all patrons and public facing staff in indoor Erie County public locations to wear masks. ‘Indoor public locations’ includes, but is not limited to, bars, restaurants, hotels, barber shops, beauty parlors, bowling alleys, schools, office complexes, shopping centers, malls, stores, and any other location that is open to the public.”

The Niagara County Public Health Director, Dan Stapleton, issued this statement to 7 News:

"Right now, we haven’t received any word from the NYS DOH. Until we hear from the state, we will continue to do what we have been doing."

A New York State Education Department Statement Spokesperson Emily DeSantis released the following statement, saying schools should continue to follow the mask rule:

"The Governor and State DOH have filed a Notice of Appeal and are seeking confirmation that the Court’s order is stayed. While these legal steps occur, it is NYSED’s position that schools should continue to follow the mask rule."

To view the ruling, click here.

To keep track of COVID-19 data in New York State, click here.