Announcer: The following segment is sponsored by Martin, Harding & Mazzotti.
Interviewer: With a new variant of the Coronavirus identified and winter setting in, Governor Hochul announced a renewed mask mandate for all indoor businesses just about two weeks ago. I spoke with managing partner Paul Harding from the law firm of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti. I asked him how the mask or vaccine requirement applies to businesses and patrons and what rights they have?
Paul: If you have a business, you’ve got to make a decision, right? You either gonna say, everybody who enters this business has to be vaccinated and prove, by showing a vaccination card, or you’ve got everyone has to wear a mask. There’s no kind of honor system or kind of half of you can wear and half of you can’t. And when that rolled out, people were lots of energy around this, but it seems to have settled down quite a bit.
Interviewer: Is there an exemption from wearing a mask if you’re vaccinated?
Paul: Yeah. That was the argument that people were making. “Hey, I got the vaccination, I’m good.” But if I’m not hanging out with 100% of my brethren that have also chosen to get vaccinated and show the card, then no. Vaccination or no vaccination, when you enter a building and doesn’t require your proof of 100%, you are wearing a mask.
Interviewer: And that leads me to my next question, for businesses that decide to require proof of vaccination, then who has to wear a mask?
Paul: Right. So, you do require proof of vaccination and you’ve got the…when you show your card, then you don’t have to wear a mask. [inaudible 00:01:35] at the gym the other day, prove the vaccination and nobody was wearing a mask. And then, of course, go to another gym the day later and it’s a different facility, and everyone had their masks on regardless of the vaccination. So, we’re seeing different application of the rules, but that’s what the governor intended and it seems to be working.
Interviewer: And what sort of repercussions are there for businesses who decide not to enforce the mask mandate or vaccine requirement?
Paul: Well, the New York State Health Department has the ability to issue fines up to $1,000 per violation. But are the inspectors out the way they were before? You hear things and not quite sure that the enforcement is quite as strong as it was prior. Maybe they’re ramping it up. Maybe we’re gonna hear more about that. But I’ve not heard of anybody who’s been issued a violation.
Interviewer: Well, Paul, thank you so much.
Paul: You’re welcome.
Interviewer: That’s it for today’s edition of “What Are Your Rights?”