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NY Mask Mandate Extended to at Least March, Court Says

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An appeals court panel granted Monday a motion that keeps the New York State mask mandate in effect until judges can hear arguments on the legality of the order meant to curb the spread of Covid-19.

New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office had appealed the case to the Appellate Division, Second Department in Brooklyn —which is scheduled to hear the case on March 2 — after a Nassau County court judge struck down the rules last week.

“Wearing a mask saves lives,” James said. “The mask mandate and today’s decision will help in our efforts to fight back this virus. My office will continue to use its full authority to keep New Yorkers safe.”

Judge Thomas Rademaker ruled on Jan. 25 that Gov. Kathy Hochul overstepped her authority in imposing a rule that needed to have been passed by the state legislature. Hochul, a Democrat, had vowed to fight back and cheered the extension of the stay.

“Mask regulations keep our schools and businesses safe and open, protect vulnerable New Yorkers, and are critical tools as we work to get through this winter surge, Hochul said. “Thanks to our efforts, including mask regulations, cases are declining and we are seeing major progress in the fight against Covid-19.”

The ruling was the results of a lawsuit brought by members of a group called Mandate for Freedom that is challenging the mask mandates. The judge cited the fact that last year the state legislature curbed any governor’s ability to issue decrees, such as a mask mandate, amid a declared state of emergency.

The school mask mandates was issued on Hochul’s first day in office in August, days before the fall semester started, and the rule requiring masks in public places was issued in December. The court ruling comes after newly elected Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman recently signed an executive order telling local school boards to vote on whether to continue following the mandate. Several of LI’s 124 school districts filed papers backing the plaintiffs.

-With Reuters

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