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Mask mandate remains in effect after appeals judge issues stay: What it means for you

January 26, 2022

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The state mask mandate will remain in effect after a New York appellate court judge issued a stay Tuesday evening, allowing the governor’s mask mandate to continue amid an appeal. It comes after the State Supreme Court judge struck down New York’s mask mandate earlier this week.

That judge ruled the governor and the State Health Department did not have the authority to enact the mandate without approval from the legislature, and that sparked massive confusion about whether you still need to wear a mask and where.

For nearly two years, we have worn them just about everywhere we go: at school, in the grocery store and at work. But now, there is a legal battle brewing across the state about whether masks can be mandated. “Because we’re not under the state of emergency and the executive branch does not have these emergency powers anymore, they do not have the authority to create these laws or rules and that’s what the commissioner did in effect,” said Anthony Kuhn, Managing Partner at Tully Rinckey law firm.

Kuhn says the judge’s decision left many people unsure about whether they are required to keep wearing a mask in public. Governor Kathy Hochul’s office quickly indicated they planned to appeal the ruling.

On Tuesday, an appellate court judge heard arguments for and against the mask mandate and ruled the mandate will remain in effect for now.

Regardless of how this all ends after the appeal, Kuhn says you may still be required to wear a mask in the future.

“If your employer implements a mask mandate, if a business that you want to go to implements a mask mandate and you don’t want to wear a mask, then don’t go to the business, but they have the right to implement a mask mandate,” Kuhn said. “There’s a question about whether or not the schools have the right to implement a mask mandate because we have to send our students to school.”

Kuhn expects most school districts to continue to enforce the mask mandate in schools, but he says it is unclear if they are allowed to. He says school districts could impose a mask mandate of their own, but he says that could also be challenged in court.

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