Mask up or pay up: That's the message from Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration, which announced Friday plans to aggressively pursue local governments that fail to enforce mask-wearing guidelines.
Not doing so could result in $10,000 in daily fines, Cuomo said.
The state Department of Health will issue an order creating a "framework" for reporting mask enforcement efforts. Failure to enforce mask wearing as well as social distancing and capacity limits will result in punishment for the local governments.
"The Commissioner of Health will issue a Section 16 order to the local governments advising them that they have to step up the compliance, that it is the law and if the local governments don't step up the compliance, they will actually be in violation of the law and they can be fined. I have asked the local governments many times to actually do the compliance," Cuomo said.
"Compliance is not public education — it is enforcement. People know what the rules are and they've heard them every day. Local governments have to do enforcement. Whether or not it fits with their political agenda really is pointless. It's the law and their job is to enforce the law."
The new effort comes as the state is contending with COVID-19 hotspots in dozens of zip codes in the Hudson Valley, Queens, and Brooklyn.
Cuomo met with leaders in the Orthodox Jewish community, where some of those hotspots overlap, to discuss mask wearing and social distancing.