State mandate on masks in indoor public places struck down

Calling it unlawfully enacted, the statewide mandate requiring masks or proof of COVID-19 vaccine in all indoor public places was struck down by a Nassau County Supreme Court on Monday. The ruling overturns the statewide mandate for masks in schools and public places, however it does not reverse local mandates.

The State Attorney General’s office has already filed a notice of intent to appeal the ruling, in effect keeping the mandate intact until a decision is rendered. The New York Credit Union Association is monitoring the case closely and assessing its impact on credit unions.

In the decision, Thomas Rademaker, state Supreme Court justice, wrote that the court “does not intend the decision in any way to question or otherwise opine on the efficacy, need or requirement of masks as a means or tool in dealing with the COVID-19 virus,” but decides only the issue of whether the mandate was properly enacted and if so, can be enforced.

Gov. Kathy Hochul previously announced that masks would be required to be worn in all indoor public places unless businesses or venues implement a vaccine requirement effective Monday, Dec. 13. In early January, the mandate was extended through Feb. 1.

In response to the Nassau County Supreme Court ruling, Hochul stated that “[m]y 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.”

The Nassau County Supreme Court decision comes after the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this month temporarily blocked a federal mandate for employers with 100 or more workers requiring them to mandate and verify that all employees are vaccinated against COVID-19 or test unvaccinated employees weekly for COVID-19 and ensure those employees wear masks in the workplace.

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