Bill Morris in COVID-19 on December 14, 2021
As the Omicron variant sweeps into New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul has announced that masks are now required in all indoor public spaces — including the common areas of co-ops and condominiums — if the building does not have a vaccination requirement. The rule is a response to the 43% surge in the statewide seven-day average COVID-19 case rate since Thanksgiving. The rule went into effect on Monday, Dec. 13 and will remain in effect until Jan. 15, 2022, when state health officials will re-evaluate it.
"The new measure brings added layers of mitigation during the holidays when more time is spent indoors shopping, gathering, and visiting holiday-themed destinations," the State Health Commissioner said in a statement.
The ruling defines "indoor public space" as any space that is not a private residence, including "indoor entertainment venues, concert halls, indoor sports stadiums, recreational spaces, restaurants, office buildings, shopping centers, grocery stores, pharmacies, houses of worship and common areas in residential buildings."
William D. McCracken, a partner at the law firm Ganfer Shore Leeds & Zauderer, has begun delivering a stark message to his co-op and condo board clients: "If you don't screen everyone who enters the building for vaccinations, then they have to wear a mask. This is not a punishment. It's one of the proven things we can do to protect our residents, staff and guests from a very nasty variant of the virus."
Co-op and condo boards will not have the option of "mixing and matching" masks and vaccinations for people entering the building. The rule states: "Whichever requirement is selected, it must apply to all within the business/venue’s capacity, including staff, patrons, visitors, and guests. A business and venue cannot do a 'combination.'"
Businesses and venues that implement a proof of vaccination requirement must ensure that anyone 12 years of age or older is fully vaccinated before entering indoors. Businesses/venues can accept Excelsior Pass, Excelsior Pass Plus, SMART Health Cards issued outside of New York State, full-course vaccination through NYC COVID Safe app, a CDC Vaccination Card or other official immunization record.
In accordance with Centers for Disease Control's definition, fully vaccinated is defined as 14 days past an individual's last vaccination dose in their initial vaccine series (14 days past the second shot of a two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine; 14 days past the one-shot Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine).
Vaccines for children ages 5-11 have been available since November 2021. Therefore, in order to enter a business or venue that implements a proof of vaccination requirement, children ages 5–11 only have to show proof of having had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccination.
Violators of the rule face a $1,000 fine per violation.
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