NEW YORK — In New York, if you don't wear a mask, you could be fined $1,000. If you don't social distance, you could be fined $1,000. The state Department of Health updated its enforcement regulations for the new coronavirus pandemic July 9 by imposing financial penalties.
The regulations state "Any person who is over age 2 and able to medically tolerate a face-covering shall be required to cover their now and mouth with a mask or face-covering when in a public place and unable to maintain, or when not maintaining, social distance."
COVID-19 Emergency Regulations also spell out the requirement of masks when you are a paying passenger on public or private transportation and an employee in the workplace, as well as rules for nonessential gatherings which limit the number of people who can gathering for any reason.
Fines could only be issued after a state or county health department investigated the possible violation, the Democrat & Chronicle reported.
The problem is, while the state said local law enforcement is permitted to enforce the regulations, many towns feel they need to pass local laws to explicitly deal with the issue.
At a July 1 news conference, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he was not pleased that not everyone was wearing masks, adding there have been compliance issues across the whole state, CNY Central reported.
One incident where compliance was not enforced was a charity drive-in concert July 25 in the Hamptons.
The headliner for the concert was The Chainsmokers and a VIP area was seen with people packed closely together near the front of the stage, apparently abandoning social distancing protocols.
The governor said he was "appalled" at the egregious social distancing violations.
New Castle town board members, reacting to a 27-case coronavirus cluster which was the result of a high school graduation and after parties in late June, passed a local law mandating the use of face masks to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.
They were the first in the state to do so, and the fine for not complying was $250 for the first time and $500 for the second offense.
Town officials said, by passing a local ordinance, "we have simply given our police department an enforcement mechanism, which does not exist in the Governor's Executive Orders."
New Castle police said most residents were wearing masks and others were voluntarily compliant when approached by officers.
"The last thing we want to do is issue you a summons," police officials said.
So now it's your turn to weigh in on the issue. Vote in our unscientific poll and tell us what you think in the comments.