State mask inspectors will not go to counties


ALBANY – The governor’s office revisited comments made on Monday by Gov. Kathy Hochul on how the state plans to control a new mask mandate, which, according to the party lines, has been opposed by many leaders. county who said they would not enforce respect.

Instead of conducting “spot checks” in counties, the state plans to financially support counties that actively enforce the mask or vaccine policy. The governor had appeared to offer a two-pronged approach using state inspectors on the ground and financial support.

The state’s health ministry, which oversees state health inspectors, did not respond to questions regarding the governor’s comments on state inspectors.

“The application will be carried out by local health departments,” Hochul spokeswoman Hazel Crampton-Hays said in a statement Monday evening. Spot checks will be carried out by the counties and not by the state, she said.

Earlier Monday, Hochul told reporters in Broome County that “we have state resources to give to the counties to help them enforce the law and the money will flow immediately.”

“The counties that are cooperating and doing this, we’re going to give them the resources they need to do it, so you can count on that,” said Hochul in Broome County. “But the state will also be involved. “

Hochul, asked to explain the implication, replied:

“We will send inspectors to do spot checks to see what is going on. We’ve always said we’re going to leave it to the counties and make sure it’s done from the counties, but we want to support them as well. “

At a press conference later today, Hochul explained that the state is rolling out a $ 65 million program to support the application of the mask policy, which could also be used for cost-related reimbursement. tests, vaccines and masks.

In an evening press release, the state clarified that the announced new funds were only intended for counties that apply the mandate – not the many counties, often run by Republicans, who have openly said they don’t. would not apply.

Instead, a different amount of money was available for those counties, but only for the costs of the vaccine booster. This money, also $ 65 million, was deployed in September.

It was not immediately clear to the governor’s office how much money the counties had so far requested out of this pot of money. The money must be requested until the end of the year and then repaid after the fact.

Later that evening on Monday, the governor’s office then said that in fact the state would not be sending state inspectors to local counties and that no one-time state checks would be made. carried out either.

“We’re all in the same boat as we fight this winter wave, and Governor Hochul will do everything in his power to help counties keep their residents safe,” Crampton-Hays said in his statement.

Hochul had previously asked if she could take a more aggressive approach to upholding her administration’s mandate, which requires people to wear masks inside businesses or public spaces that don’t exclusively require proof of vaccination for the entrance.

The governor’s stance to send state inspectors was a step in his strategy to enforce his policy which may expire on Jan.15.

Last year, the administration of former Governor Andrew M. Cuomo deployed state soldiers and investigators from other agencies to carry out spot checks of restaurants and bars that allegedly violated coronavirus regulations , including social distancing and mask warrants. Dozens of restaurants and bars have had their alcohol licenses suspended and more than 1,000 summons have been issued.

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