New Castle becomes first NY municipality to pass a law requiring people to wear a mask
The town of New Castle has become the first municipality in New York state to pass a local law requiring people to wear a mask or face covering.
The New Castle Town Board voted unanimously Tuesday to require residents to wear face masks when they are unable to maintain social distancing, giving police the ability to enforce mask wearing. Children under two and people with medical conditions would not be forced to wear the mask.
Officials say New Castle police now have the authority to issue violators with fines of up to $250 for the first offense and $500 for subsequent offenses. They say the law will be enforced on both public and private properties, including places of business.
Town officials say the law was necessary despite Gov. Andrew Cuomo's executive order requiring New Yorkers to wear a mask in public because that didn't provide a way to enforce the policy.
They say police were getting too many reports of people not complying with social distancing guidelines. More than two dozen people tested positive after the Horace Greeley graduation and field night party and several hundred had to be ordered into quarantine. A virtual public hearing was held during last night's meeting so people could give their opinions.
"Mask-wearing is preventing the escape of respiratory droplets. Coronavirus is still active in Westchester," says Laurie Morton, of Chappaqua. "I'm curious as to whether there are any instances where there was an alleged violation and we've asked people to do something and they said no because there was no enforcement mechanism. I suspect the answer to that is no," adds Mike Schumacher.
Town officials insist this is not a case of government overreach but rather a way to make sure residents understand what is required during this pandemic.
The law is expected to go into effect later this week.
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