ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — After some push back from local municipalities regarding the NYS indoor mask or vax mandate, Governor Kathy Hochul is standing by her decision.
During a press conference in New York City, Hochul reiterated that the mandate’s objective is to protect the health of New Yorkers and the health of the economy. However, some local counties have made a point to state their county won’t be utilizing resources to enforce the mandate.
“We believe that the people should enforce good standards along this time,” Samuel Hall, Chairman of Washington County Board of Supervisors, said. “Our public health department does not have the capability of enforcing it.”
Hall said none of Washington County’s 14 health department employees nor their Washington County deputies will be going to a business that reports non-compliance. NEWS10 ABC asked Hall what entity Washington County businesses or residents should call regarding a breach of the mandate.
“They can call the NY State Department of Health. Sure, they can report to them,” Hall said. “They are the ones that put it out there. So, they should be the ones that resolve the issue if there is any.”
Hall added that if an incident escalates past simply not wearing a mask—either to violence or a trespassing issue—deputies could be dispatched to the scene.
Rensselaer County echoed the same sentiment.
“Rensselaer County will not utilize resources to enforce this new state mandate,” County Executive Steve McLaughlin said. “If the state wants to enforce the mandate, the state will need to utilize state resources for those actions.”
Saratoga County used strong words against the Governor’s decision.
“Saratoga County’s Public Health Department and Law Enforcement will not enforce New York State’s misguided and unrealistic mask mandate, which passes the buck to counties to enforce what the Governor herself said just over a week ago is “almost impossible” to enforce,” Theodore T. Kusnuerz, Chairman of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors, said.
Governor Hochul said this enforcement system is standard practice, and the proof of vaccine option was a compromise for those county businesses who didn’t require a mask.
“Counties have always had to enforce public health requirements. That’s what they do,” Hochul said. “Seventy-three percent or so of the state population is governed by county leaders who say they support what we are doing here.”
One such leader is Albany County Executive Dan McCoy, who commended the Governor’s decision. The county will have an online portal for enforcing the mandate through resident complaints.
“While shopping at a restaurant or wherever they are at, they can lodge a complaint, and we’ll take that and go from there,” McCoy said.
However, McCoy said law enforcement would by no means be going door-to-door to check for business compliance.
“Look, I don’t want any worker to get into an argument with a patron that’s coming in. We want everyone to be safe, especially around the holidays,” McCoy said.
Schenectady County urged businesses and venues to follow the new regulations in a statement sent to NEWS10.
“Throughout the pandemic, when new regulations were issued, the [Schenectady] County has taken the approach to educate first, should issues arise,” Erin M. Roberts, Director of Public Communications, stated.
Governor Hochul said New York is currently experiencing a holiday surge. She will reassess the mandate on January 15.