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New York Mask Mandate Back in Effect After Judge Grants Stay

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An appeals court judge granted a motion to temporarily block a lower-court ruling that had struck down the state’s mask mandate.
ALBANY, N.Y. — New York’s indoor mask mandate will remain in effect for now after an appeals court judge on Tuesday blocked a lower-court ruling from a day before that had abruptly struck down the policy and created confusion across schools and businesses. The decision on Tuesday came one day after a ruling by Justice Thomas Rademaker, of State Supreme Court in Nassau County, who had said the rule requiring masks violated the State Constitution. His ruling had abruptly nullified part of the rule imposed by Gov. Kathy Hochul last month, amid a surge in coronavirus cases driven by the Omicron variant, that required masks or proof of full vaccination at all indoor public spaces statewide. Ms. Hochul immediately vowed to fight the decision, with Letitia James, the state attorney general, filing a motion to stay the ruling in an attempt to put it on hold while the state filed a formal appeal. On Tuesday afternoon, following a brief hearing, Justice Robert J. Miller, the state appeals court judge, sided with the state and granted the stay, effectively allowing the mask rule to go back into effect temporarily. Justice Miller scheduled another hearing on the matter for Friday morning. Ms. Hochul, a Democrat, applauded the appeals court on Tuesday “for siding with common sense and granting an interim stay to keep the state’s important masking regulations in place.” Despite the reprieve, the ruling injected a jolt of uncertainty across the state at a time when New York is still grappling with a surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. It left parents and teachers scrambling to decipher whether children would be required to wear masks in schools and it revived political flash points over mask-wearing, with the state’s top Republicans celebrating the initial ruling on Monday. While officials said the ruling only affected the state mask rule, and did not supersede any local or federal rules around masking, state officials scrambled on Monday night to let hundreds of school districts know that they should continue to follow the mask rule while the legal issues were ironed out.

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