NY Governor has a revolt on her hands over sudden mask mandate

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

On Friday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul stunned people around the state by announcing that a statewide face mask mandate was coming back, though it would not apply to businesses or other venues that required immunity passports. Making matters worse was the fact that she only gave everyone three days to prepare, with the mandate going into effect on Monday. She claimed that the mandate was being imposed in response to a “surge” in Omicron variant cases, despite the fact that we have thus far found only 38 cases in a state with a population of nearly 20 million. There was some initial confusion as to whether the mandate might only apply to public venues such as bars or restaurants, but Hochul’s office quickly clarified that it applied to all businesses without a vaccine mandate. This led local businesses to refer to the order as the “mask at your desk mandate” and many business owners were furious. Now, both managers and employees at office buildings in the Big Apple are telling the New York Post that the Governor is out of control and many will not comply.

Gov. Hochul’s sudden mask-at-your-desk mandate sparked outrage in New York City as it went into effect Monday despite the Big Apple having some of the lowest rates of COVID-19 and highest rates of vaccination in the nation…

One Manhattan hedge-fund manager called Hochul’s order — which at first was met with confusion about whether it applied to offices as well as retail and service businesses — “shortsighted, in that people were told they have to get a vaccine.”

“These mask mandates hinder the desire people have to get back to the office and further delay the revitalization of Midtown and downtown office life,” the financier said.

The greatest amount of outrage is definitely showing up in New York City. Despite the density of the population there, they are currently only registering an infection rate of 2.7% and just 28 cases of Omicron have shown up. The upstate region isn’t doing as well, but most of those lower population density areas are still staying in the 4 to 4.5 percent range. As one hedge-fund manager told the Post, imposing a mandate at this time is simply “ridiculous.”

Whether it’s in the city or upstate, it’s unclear how Hochul plans to enforce this and prosecute companies that refuse to go along with it. The NYPD has already repeatedly stated that they have no intention of becoming “the mask and vaccination police.” I’m sure there will be some number of “Karens” out there who are willing to drop a dime on their bosses, but the government still has to find someone to go out to the office in question, investigate, and issue a citation.

Compliance in the more conservative upstate region is going to be even tougher to achieve. I’ve been monitoring the local news outlets in the region for a couple of days and the County Executives in at least a dozen mid-state counties have already gone on the record saying they will not enforce this mandate. The local police department spokespeople don’t sound any more interested in handing out tickets than the NYPD is.

In short, there are some offices and businesses that are going to comply, but they are driving their workers back out of the office in droves. Others are simply going to pay the Governor no mind and get on with their Christmas plans. But what should become obvious for most New Yorkers at this point is that this decision by the governor had little or nothing to do with the Omicron variant unless Hochul simply doesn’t listen to the medical experts who are tracking it. This mandate is yet more blackmail to try to force the remaining unvaccinated adults in the state into complying and getting their shots by making it increasingly unpleasant or even impossible for them to return to work in some sort of “normal” fashion. (Whatever “normal” means these days in blue states, anyway.)