Amid a winter Covid-19 surge and with growing concern over the Omicron variant, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced that masks will be required to be worn in all indoor public places unless businesses or venues implement a vaccine mandate. The new business and venue requirements extend to both patrons and staff. This measure is effective December 13, 2021 until January 15, 2022, after which the State will “re-evaluate” based on current conditions.
A violation of any provision of this measure is subject to all civil and criminal penalties, including a maximum fine of $1,000 for each violation. Local health departments are being asked to enforce these requirements.
In New York City, industries such as indoor dinning, gyms, and entertainment venues already have a vaccination mandate so it does not seem that this will impact them. Although, the NYC business community await word on the de Blasio vaccine mandate which is set to take effect on December 27th and has the potential to cause significant disruption to commerce across the city.
Businesses and venues who implement a proof of vaccination requirement can accept Excelsior Pass, Excelsior Pass Plus, SMART Health Cards issued outside of New York State, or a CDC Vaccination Card. In accordance with CDC’s definition of fully vaccinated, full-course vaccination is defined as 14 days past an individual’s last vaccination dose in their initial vaccine series (14 days past the second shot of a two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine; 14 days past the one-shot Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine). The State also accepts WHO-approved vaccines for these purposes. It is unclear when/if booster dosses will be needed for a person to be considered fully vaccinated
New York’s masking requirements continue to be in effect for pre-K to grade 12 schools, public transit, homeless shelters, prisons, nursing homes, and health care setting.