NYS Indoor Mask Requirement and Proof of Vaccination for Businesses and Venues

(WSYR-TV) – As Governor Hochul introduced new masking rules today, businesses and places may have questions about the new requirements. While some companies like Tops and Wegmans have already shared their plans, it can be difficult for others to know where to start or what those requirements mean. Attached below are the Frequently Asked Questions that have been posted on the New York State Coronavirus page.

For businesses and places:

How is “indoor public place” defined and what types of businesses and places are included in this requirement?

An indoor public place is defined as any indoor space that is not a private residence. This means that the businesses and places that New Yorkers typically frequent are either public or owned by private business entities. This includes indoor entertainment venues, concert halls, indoor sports stadiums, recreation areas, restaurants, office buildings, shopping malls and common areas in residential buildings.

Does this policy apply to office spaces?

Yes, the requirement applies to all non-private residences, including office spaces. While the office does not require proof of vaccination as a condition of entry, everyone must wear a mask at all times, regardless of vaccination status, except when eating, drinking or alone in a closed room .

If eating or drinking is part of my business or establishment, and I have a mask requirement in place, what am I supposed to do when guests are eating or drinking?

Guests at your establishment may only remove their masks when actively eating or drinking, in which case appropriate social distancing measures, adequate ventilation, and filtration methods are strongly recommended. Masks must be worn in all other instances apart from physically eating or drinking.

What if I eat or drink in a restaurant or bar?

If a business or location does not require proof of full vaccination, all employees and customers must wear their mask at all times, regardless of their vaccination status, except when eating or drinking is necessary.

What about private events held in a public indoor space, such as a wedding held at a restaurant or venue?

Private residences are not included. However, for private events held inside a business or venue, for example, a wedding taking place in a restaurant or private venue, the business entity/venue should require the wearing of a mask or proof of vaccination as a condition of entry.

What exactly are the requirements?

Anyone, after their second birthday and medically able to tolerate a face covering, should wear an appropriate mask when indoors, regardless of their vaccination status. However, businesses and locations may choose to implement a vaccination requirement, requiring proof of vaccination as a condition of entry inside the business or location. Whichever requirement is selected, it should apply to everyone within the capacity of the business/location, including staff, customers, visitors and guests. A business and location cannot meet a “combination” requirement. Please see below for details of each requirement option:

Company/location Proof of vaccination requirement

Businesses and venues that implement a proof of vaccination requirement must ensure that anyone 12 years of age or older is fully vaccinated before entering indoors. Companies/places can accept Excelsior pass, Excelsior Pass Plus, SMART health cards issued outside of New York State, full vaccination by NYC COVID Safe app, a CDC vaccination card or any other official vaccination record.

In accordance with the CDC definition, fully vaccinated is defined as 14 days after an individual’s last vaccination dose in their initial vaccine series (14 days after the second injection of a two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine; 14 days after single dose Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine). The state also accepts WHO-approved vaccines for these purposes. Parents and guardians can collect and keep an Excelsior Pass and/or Excelsior Pass Plus for children or minors under legal guardianship.

Vaccines for children ages 5-11 have only been available since November 2021. Therefore, to enter a business or place that implements a proof of vaccination requirement, children ages 5-11 n only have to present proof that they received at least one dose. of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Vaccines have been available for 16-17 year olds since April 2021 and for 12-15 year olds since May 2021. At the time of determination, 63% of 12-17 year olds have been fully vaccinated in New Zealand. York State.

Mask-wearing requirement for businesses/places

Businesses and venues implementing a mask requirement must ensure that all customers after their second birthday and medically able to tolerate a face covering wear a mask at all times indoors, outside of eating or to drink physically.

How will these requirements be enforced?

We expect these new requirements to largely apply on their own as the state experiences a winter surge and New Yorkers keep their loved ones safe during the holidays. Nevertheless, a violation of any provision of this measure is subject to all civil and criminal penalties, including a fine of up to $1,000 for each violation, and may be enforced by local health departments.

Who could be fined, the business or location, or an individual in violation of the requirements?

According to the regulations, individuals or venue businesses/entities who violate the ruling are subject to a maximum fine of $1,000 for each violation. Local health departments may enforce these requirements.

Ongoing Masking Requirements

Unvaccinated people, including those with medical exemptions, continue to be responsible for wearing the mask, in accordance with CDC federal guidelines. Additionally, state masking requirements continue to be in effect for K-12 schools, public transportation, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes, and health care facilities in accordance with CDC guidelines.


What is the new requirement?

On December 10, 2021, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that masks will be required to be worn in all indoor public places unless businesses or places implement a vaccine requirement. This major action to deal with the winter surge comes as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are increasing statewide and aligns with CDC recommendations for communities with substantial and high transmission. The state health commissioner issued a ruling upholding the requirement.

Does this mean that vaccines don’t work?

No! The State Department of Health has produced leading studies nationwide, published in the CDC’s MMWR and the New England Journal of Medicine, which demonstrate the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, particularly in preventing serious disease. The Department continues to urge eligible New Yorkers of all ages to get fully vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible.

So why did the state implement the new requirements?

The new measure brings additional layers of mitigation during the holidays when more time is spent indoors shopping, congregating and visiting holiday-themed destinations. Since Thanksgiving, the statewide seven-day average case rate has increased 43% and hospitalizations have increased 29%. While the percentage of fully immunized New Yorkers continues to rise — gaining 2% from Thanksgiving weekend to today — the rise is not fast enough to fully curb the spread of the virus, especially among communities low vaccination coverage.

When do the new requirements take effect?

The new requirements are effective Monday, December 13, 2021. The requirements are in effect until January 15, 2022, when the state will reevaluate next steps.

Do the new requirements (via this decision) replace the previous requirements (Commissioner’s decision) on interior masking?

Yes. This ruling replaces the August 27, 2021 ruling that required face masks in certain settings such as healthcare facilities, schools, correctional facilities, and on public transportation or in transportation hubs. These settings are still covered by the current masking determination.

You can read the State Health Commissioner Decision Letter December 10, 2021.

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