Gov. Andrew Cuomo has issued an executive order that allows businesses to deny entry to customers who aren’t wearing a mask, saying it’s intended to improve public health and reduce fights.
Cuomo said Thursday that his “no mask, no service” rule is about changing the culture so that people view the wearing of masks in public as essential to preserving everyone’s health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Today I am signing an executive order that authorizes private businesses to deny entrance to people who do not wear a mask or a face covering,” said Cuomo, who added that masks are “amazingly effective."
Health experts, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, now believe that wearing masks can help contain the novel coronavirus and prevent many illnesses and deaths.
Cuomo called in two celebrities to help with getting out that message. Actor Rosie Perez and comedian Chris Rock will appear in public service ads. They joined the governor at his daily COVID-19 briefing, held in Brooklyn. Perez made a special appeal to Latinx New Yorkers, who, along with African Americans, have been contracting the virus at a higher rate than the rest of the population.
“Wear a mask, please,” Perez said. “The numbers in our communities are staggering. This is not a joke, this is not a hoax, this is real.”
Rock urged New Yorkers not to ease up on safety rules now that the virus seems to be waning. He likens it to doctors who prescribe antibiotics and tell the patient to take them all, or “it will come back worse.”
Perez said the new law will help prevent confrontations in stores between shoppers wearing masks and those who are not, and help reduce overall anxiety.
Mask wearing has become the latest divisive issue in a polarized U.S. Cuomo, and many democratic leaders, including presidential candidate Joe Biden, appear in public wearing masks. President Donald Trump refuses to wear one, saying he doesn’t need to because he is tested frequently for the virus.
However, Republican U.S .Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell backs wearing a mask, and has posed for photos with one. Even some Fox News personalities now advocate wearing a mask.
Rock said that where he lives, in Brooklyn, he estimates around 40% of people don’t wear masks, many of them younger people.
“It’s sad that our health has become a political issue,” Rock said.
Cuomo said younger people may be reluctant to wear masks because they were told at first that COVID-19 won’t affect them, though new evidence shows that’s not true.
A Siena College poll conducted earlier in the week finds that 89% of New Yorkers agree with wearing a mask, and 94% say they wear one in public when they cannot maintain social distance.