On Tuesday, an appeals court judge temporarily blocked a lower-court ruling from a day before, stating that New York States’ indoor mask mandate will continue to remain in effect. This news comes a day after some confusion across schools and businesses with the same.
After two days of simultaneous court hearings, a judge ruled the mandate would stay in place at least until the end of the week so that all sides could reply and respond to the situation.
The decision on Tuesday came after a ruling on Monday by Justice Thomas Rademaker of State Supreme Court in Nassau County, who had said the rule requiring masks violated the State Constitution.
Rademaker’s ruling had abruptly cancelled 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 complete vaccination at all indoor public spaces across the state.
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Letitia James, who is the state attorney general, had filed a motion to abide by the ruling in an attempt to put it on hold. In contrast, the state filed a formal appeal for the Covid News: N.Y. Mask.
“A judge has supported our motion to support New York’s mask mandate in place as we continue our appeal process,” Attorney General Letitia James tweeted on her account after the appellate judge’s stay. “Protecting the health of New Yorkers during the coronavirus pandemic is our top priority.”
Appeals court judge remarks on the situation
On Tuesday afternoon, state appeals court judge Justice Robert J.Miller backed up with the state and granted the stay, effectively allowing the mask rule to go back into effect temporarily. Justice Miller has now scheduled another hearing on mandating masks for Friday morning.
The judge on Monday ruled out that the state’s Department of Health did not have the authority to legislate such a mandate without approval from the legislature.
The ruling on Monday had led to a sense of uncertainty across the state when New York is grappling with the fear’s end of a surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. It left parents and teachers wondering on Tuesday to decipher whether children would be required to wear masks in schools, and it rekindled political flashpoints over mask-wearing.
While officials said the ruling affected only the state mask rule and was not a substitute for any local or federal laws around wearing masks, state officials had dashed in the dark hours of Monday night to let hundreds of school districts know that they should continue to follow the mask rule. At the same time, in certain cities, the legal issues were ironed out.
But some schools, primarily on Long Island, where mask mandates have become particularly divisive, said they would take Justice Rademaker’s decision as a license to shift their in-built policies. They informed parents through late night and early morning posts on their websites and social media pages that masks would be optional for staff and students from Tuesday.
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City Hall officials have added that the judgment had no immediate impact on New York City’s schools since the city’s teaching department had its masking policies in place before the state’s mandate.
Officials have asked that parents and students continue to follow the mask policy, which was critical to beating back the Omicron variant and keeping children in schools.
Governor Kathy Hochul remarked, “The last thing I want to see is a different ongoing trend because people gave up on the masks”.