- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to sign an executive order allowing businesses to refuse service to people who won't wear masks.
- There's clear evidence that face coverings can help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
- However, their requirement has become a point of political and cultural divide reaching as high as the White House.
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New York governor Andrew Cuomo will sign an executive order allowing businesses to refuse service to people not wearing a mask, he said Thursday, as face coverings become a political sparring point amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"No mask - No entry," he said on Twitter during his daily press briefing in New York City.
—Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) May 28, 2020
"We're giving store owners the right to say 'if you're not wearing a mask, you can't come in," Cuomo said. "That store owner has a right to protect themselves; that store owner has a right to protect other patrons in that store. You don't want to wear a mask? Fine, but you don't have the right to go into that store if the store owner doesn't want you to."
The move follows similar orders by local officials in various cities and states and could protect businesses — many of which have already been requiring masks for some time — from discrimination lawsuits. In Minneapolis, for example, not wearing a mask could land someone a $1000 fine. New York previously began to require masks in public spaces when social distancing is not possible and on public transportation.
Yet even as the efficacy of facial coverings to slow the spread of coronavirus increases with further data gathering, masks have become a political sparring point from pulpits as visible as the White House. After President Donald Trump, who himself has refused to wear a mask in most public outings, shared a tweet mocking Democratic candidate Joe Biden for wearing a mask in his first public appearance months suggesting, Cuomo made a point of wearing one to a meeting at the White House on Wednesday.
—Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 28, 2020
And as businesses across the country begin to re-open, the mask culture war is in full swing. In Texas, one restaurant owner posted a sign saying "no mask allowed," according to the Washington Post, and in Kentucky a gas-station's handmade sign banning them was widely shared.
There is "clear scientific evidence" that masks work, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House's coronavirus task force response coordinator, said earlier in May. "Out of respect for each other, as Americans that care for each other, we need to be wearing masks in public when we cannot social distance," she said. "It's really critically important."
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