NY’s Hochul issues ‘hysteria-driven’ mask-or-vax mandate including hefty fine for still-struggling businesses

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is being ripped for imposing another “hysteria-driven” mask and vaccine mandate on her state that includes a hefty fine for non-compliant businesses.

The mandate order, issued Friday, comes amid a rise in cases of the omicron variant of COVID-19, though thus far, experts have said it is nowhere near as potent as previous variants and is well-controlled by existing vaccines and boosters.

Hochul ordered all offices, restaurants, shops, and other retail businesses across the state to require staff and customers to show proof of vaccination or to wear masks, lest owners be fined $1,000 per violation, the New York Post reported.

The mandates will take effect Monday even as businesses “are struggling to recover from pandemic lockdowns and battling workforce shortages,” The Post noted.

In addition to thousand-dollar-per-violation fines, business owners who don’t enforce Hochul’s mandates could face criminal and civil penalties as well as a max fine of $1,000 per violation.

Hochul’s mandates will remain in effect until Jan. 15 but they could also be extended, officials said. Her office noted that local health agencies will be tasked with enforcement duties.

“I speak all over the state and they’re asking for help. They’ve done everything they can, I applaud our local governments, our county executives, our county administrators and the local public health departments for doing what they can do,” Hochul told reporters following an unrelated event in Manhattan on Friday, The Post reported. “I said I’ll give them air cover, I will give them the protection.”

“This was completely avoidable — [a] completely avoidable circumstance,” she added, blaming her order on a familiar Democratic talking point by labeling the situation “a crisis of the unvaccinated.”

In September when he issued his vaccine mandate for businesses, President Biden also blamed it on “unvaccinated” Americans. “This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” he said at the time.

Under Hochul’s mandate, businesses are required to have customers and staff don masks before entering or to limit entry only to people who are fully vaccinated. Also, workers who are finally back at their desks following a lengthy absence are also required to show proof of vaccination or don a mask while working, state officials confirmed to The Post.

In a separate op-ed, The Post’s editorial board ripped Hochul’s new mandates for whipping up new fears.

“Gov. Kathy Hochul seems determined to be every bit the dictator the last guy was, with a new order requiring universal indoor masking in ‘public places’ — including private offices as well as restaurants, theaters etc. — unless everyone’s proven vaccinated,” The Post’s board began.

“It’s supposedly a response to the Omicron variant, but it’s clearly more of a pander to Omicron hysteria: The new strain has barely hit these shores and by all accounts is markedly less deadly than prior ones. Cases tend to resemble the common cold, only causing mild or asymptomatic disease,” the board continued, reminding readers that for nearly two years, most of the country has endured the pandemic without such restrictions.

“Yes, the case count is up — but if it’s not a serious threat (except to those who are at risk from any virus that goes around), it doesn’t justify an order that will further slow the return to normalcy,” the op-ed notes.

“Never mind that 80 percent of New Yorkers are vaccinated, and more have immunity from having contracted COVID. Nor that the Empire State’s so far seen only 20 confirmed Omicron cases, with no recorded deaths,” said the board, adding: “With the city still struggling to reopen fully, Hochul just put another nail in its coffin — though she just urged employers to bring their workers back to Manhattan.”

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