Judge strikes down NY indoor mask mandate at public places; Hochul will fight decision

Photo by Tom Rivers: A notice at the entrance of the Tops store in Albion on Jan. 5 informs the public of the state’s indoor mask requirement.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 January 2022 at 8:16 am

A State Supreme Court justice on Monday ruled that Gov. Kathy Hochul and the Department of Health overstepped their authority in requiring masks be worn in indoor public places.

Hochul announced the mask mandate on Dec. 10, to take effect Dec. 15 to Dec. 31. It has since been extended to Feb. 1.

Judge Thomas Rademaker of the State Supreme Court in Nassau County said Hochul and Department of Health need the State Legislature’s approval to pass such orders. The Legislature last year curbed any governor’s power to issue such decrees during a state of emergency.

Hochul said she will fight the judge’s decision.

“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,” she said in a statement. “We strongly disagree with this ruling, and we are pursuing every option to reverse this immediately.”

Mickey Edwards, Albion Central School superintendent, sent a message to the community on Monday, saying the mask mandate remains in effect at the district.

“It is the New York State Education Department’s understanding that the Department of Health will appeal the Nassau County Supreme Court decision, which will result in an automatic ‘stay’ that will unambiguously restore the mask rule until such time as an appellate court issues a further ruling,” Edwards said. “Therefore, schools must continue to follow the mask rule.”