New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a new executive order Thursday that will allow private store owners to refuse service to people who are not wearing a mask.
"We are giving store owners the right to say, 'If you're not wearing a mask, you can't come in,'" Cuomo said Thursday at his daily press briefing, held in Brooklyn, New York.
Young people are still the primary age group not wearing masks, according to the governor. Cuomo said he believes the false notion that young people do not need to wear masks is in part due to the early belief that children and adolescents cannot get the coronavirus.
That belief has since been dispelled. All age groups can be infected and carry the virus, potentially passing it on to someone who is at a greater risk of falling seriously ill or dying from COVID-19.
When asked if he expects any conflicts to arise due to the order, Cuomo said: "It's New York, you can have a conflict if you say 'good morning.'" He added that people "don't have the right" to expose a store owner to the virus.
The governor stressed that wearing a mask is a sign of respect to others, and is critical in protecting the vulnerable.
"They are deceptively effective, they are amazingly effective," Cuomo said of wearing a mask.
Today I am signing an Executive Order authorizing businesses to deny entry to those who do not wear masks or face-coverings. No mask - No entry.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) May 28, 2020
New York City is the only region in the state that has yet to begin reopening. Mayor Bill de Blasio said at his own press conference Thursday that the city will likely start phase one of reopening in the next couple of weeks.
Cuomo said New York City will not reopen until it has met metrics set by the state for each region. The city has yet to meet the threshold of contact tracers, or total hospital beds and ICU beds available.
Certain boroughs and neighborhoods have double the infection rate of the city as a whole. Cases are still being reported in outer boroughs, where more minority and lower income residents live, Cuomo said. The state is aiming to reduce the spread in these areas by opening free testing sites at churches and community centers.
"I want to be able to say to every New Yorker: 'It is safe to reopen,'" Cuomo said.
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