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New York Health Commissioner Issues Order, Guidance on New State COVID-19 Mask Mandate

Following her announcement of a broad COVID-19 mask mandate for New York businesses effective December 13, 2021, Health Commissioner Mary Bassett has published an order and frequently asked questions clarifying certain issues.

Under the new requirement, masks must be worn in all indoor public areas at all times. It does not apply if the business has a vaccination policy that requires proof of vaccination as a condition of entry inside the business.

Spaces Covered

“Indoor public place” is defined as any indoor space that is not a private residence, including, but not limited to, entertainment venues, recreational spaces, office buildings, business stores, houses of worship, and common areas in residential buildings.

Businesses or venues that host private events are still required to implement the mask mandate or have a vaccine requirement. For food service businesses with outdoor dining spaces that have at least two open sides for airflow, mask wearing is not required, but strongly recommended.

Businesses that operate under the “Key to NYC” requirements, which currently allows entry for patrons with one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, must require masks to be worn by all individuals or implement a two-dose vaccination requirement. Nevertheless, establishments covered by “Key to NYC” will be required to allow entry only to those with two doses (or one dose of a single-dose vaccine) as of December 27.

The Order reiterates existing mask requirements for all public transportation, nursing homes, healthcare, childcare, and other sensitive settings.

Individuals Required to Wear Masks

Subject to the vaccination policy exception noted above, individuals covered under this mask mandate include all employees, patrons, visitors, and guests to the business or venue. This applies to any person past their second birthday and medically able to tolerate a face covering, regardless of their vaccination status.

Where the nature of a business’s services requires removal of the mask, patrons may do so for the brief amount of time necessary to perform the services or to eat and drink.


Local health departments can enforce this mandate. Individuals, businesses, and venues that violate this mandate and the related guidance are subject to a maximum fine of $1,000 per violation.

New York City employers await guidance on the new local vaccination mandate that is due to go into effect on December 27. This guidance is expected on December 15.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2022National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 348

About this Author

Jenifer Bologna Employment Lawyer Jackson Lewis
Of Counsel

Jenifer Bologna is Of Counsel in the White Plains, New York, office of Jackson Lewis P.C.

Ms. Bologna has extensive experience counseling employers on a variety of employment law issues. Ms. Bologna specializes in assisting employers in meeting the legal and practical challenges posed by federal and state laws protecting injured and ill employees, the most notable being the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act. In addition to counseling and training employers, Ms. Bologna represents management in workplace litigation in both...

Richard Greenberg, Jackson Lewis, workplace grievances lawyer, arbitrations litigation attorney

Richard Greenberg is a Principal in the New York City, New York, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He advises both unionized and union-free clients on a full-range of labor and employee relations matters.

With respect to traditional labor matters, Mr. Greenberg represents clients in collective bargaining negotiations, labor disputes, grievances and arbitrations, proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board, and in state and federal court. Mr. Greenberg also advises clients on the legal aspects of remaining union-free....


Henry S. Shapiro is an Associate in the Long Island, New York, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. His practice focuses on representing employers in workplace law matters, including preventive advice and counsel.

While attending law school, Mr. Shapiro was the Senior Articles Editor for the Hofstra Law Review and he became a certified mediator in New York State. Mr. Shapiro completed a Concentration in Labor & Employment Law while in law school.

Prior to joining Jackson Lewis, Mr. Shapiro was an Associate at a Long Island...