As of Wednesday, according to new guidelines by the CDC, people should not have to wear masks when outside, whether they are vaccinated or not. Vaccinated individuals do not have to wear masks at outdoor gatherings, whereas non-vaccinated people should. And everyone should wear masks in crowded outdoor settings, whether vaccinated or not.
Governor Cuomo has adopted it. Mayor de Blasio says, not so fast!
What’s Good For the State May Not Be Good For the City
In the city, the mayor’s top public health advisor, Dr. Jay Varma, says that the city will need to review the new recommendations before embracing the change to citywide protocol. Overall, Dr. Varma agreed that these changes might be logical for places that don’t have the same population density as New York City, but felt that they had to be more thoroughly reviewed to understand how they could be practically implemented in the city.
Because of social density in the city, it made us more vulnerable to viral spread at the height of the outbreak. Consequently, Mayor de Blasio still wants to take precautions.
“We’re going to have to keep mask restrictions in place until we’re 100% sure we’re out of the woods, and the best way to know we’re out of the woods is to see those vaccination numbers go up and up and up,” he said earlier in the week. “Just with the number of people vaccinated so far, it is just pushing down COVID, pushing down the cases and making the city safer.”
How Will This Be Enforced? Or Will It Be?
If we’ve learned anything from this pandemic, we’ve learned that nothing is consistent, nothing will stay the same, and if you wait long enough, you will not be seen as a criminal for the very behavior that was “criminal” just a few short months ago. So what will weigh out in the mask wars of 2021, a citywide mandate or a public overthrow of the mask itself?
In the meantime, we are seeing plenty of New Yorkers themselves embracing the ditch-the-mask mentality, despite the hold-the-line approach by the mayor. Will we see arrests being made now that individuals and the governor are embracing CDC guidelines while city mandates remain active?
Even at the height of isolation, arrests were sporadic and ill-enforced. Just a year ago we were talking about the double standard in social distancing rule enforcement in the city by the New York Police Department. It is unlikely that we are going to be able to effectively enforce mask mandates now that we have opened the Pandora’s box of the new CDC guidelines. And on the streets, it seems the relief is palpable. Even Cuomo himself has called it “liberating.”
We will have to watch how the city plans to enforce these mandates, or if they will. If you feel that you are being unfairly treated under these new rules, you may want to seek legal advice. Contact the New York criminal defense firm of Arkady Bukh to discuss your situation.