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Cuomo Issues ‘No Mask, No Service’ Law For New York Businesses

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Kevin P. Coughlin
/
Office of N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Governor Andrew Cuomo announces Chris Rock and Rosie Perez will be in a PSA to help raise awareness of the importance of wearing a mask, at the governor’s daily coronavirus briefing at Madison Square Boys & Girls Club in Brooklyn Thursday.";

Governor Andrew Cuomo has issued an executive order that allows businesses to deny entry to customers who aren’t wearing a mask. He says it’s intended to improve public health and reduce fights.

Cuomo says 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 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 said masks are “amazingly effective.”

Health experts, including the CDC, now believe that wearing masks can help contain the corona virus 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 prescribes antibiotics and tell the patient to take them all, or “it will come back worse.”

Perez says 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 America. Cuomo, and many democratic leaders, including presidential candidate Joe Biden, appear in public wearing masks. President Donald Trump refuse to wear one, saying he doesn’t need to because he is tested frequently for the virus. 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 says where he lives, in Brooklyn, he estimates around 40% of people don’t wear masks, 0amny of them younger people.

“It’s sad that our health has become a political issue,” Rock said.

Cuomo says younger people were told at first that the virus won’t affect them, though  new evidence shows that’s not true. He says that may make them more reluctant to wear one.

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.

Read the latest on WSHU’s coronavirus coverage here.

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Karen has covered state government and politics for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 New York and Connecticut stations, since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers.
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