January 24, 2022
MINEOLA (AP) — A New York judge ruled Monday that the state’s mask mandate can’t be enforced, after it was reinstituted by Gov. Kathy Hochul over concerns about a winter surge of coronavirus cases.
State Supreme Court Judge Thomas Rademaker said in his decision that the state Department of Health didn’t have the legal authority to implement the mandate, and that it was up to the state Legislature to do so if needed.
The mandate “is a law that was promulgated and enacted unlawfully by an executive branch state agency, and therefore void and unenforceable,” the judge said.
‘WE STRONGLY DISAGREE’
The state had initially instituted a mask mandate in April 2020 that ended in June 2021 for vaccinated individuals; Hochul announced in mid-December that it would go back into effect for at least a month. Earlier this month, the state health department said the mandate would be in place until Feb 1.
In a statement, Hochul said, “My 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.”
In an email to the Press-Republican Monday night, Champlain Valley Educational Services District Superintendent Mark Davey said that, per guidance from the State Department of Education, CVES BOCES staff will continue to mask.
In a Department of Education statement, the department notes that the State Department of Health will appeal the Rademaker decision and that the mask mandate will be reinstated during that appeals period.
In a statement, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville) called the State Supreme Court ruling a win for small businesses, parents, students, and the freedom of all New Yorkers.”
“Governor Hochul’s authoritarian mandates were crushing New York small businesses that already have faced unprecedented challenges throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” Stefanik said.
“By forcing masks on the children in our schools, these mandates have impeded the development of our next generation. I am proud the New York Supreme Court overturned this unprecedented overreach of power and will continue to stand up for the freedom of New Yorkers.”
The ruling comes as the omicron wave that gripped New York state appears to be fading. The state averaged around 23,400 new cases of the virus per day in the 7 day period that ended Sunday, down from 74,600 per day during the wave’s peak in early January. Hospitalizations are dropping, too, declining 17% statewide in the past 7 days.
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