After New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced a statewide mask mandate on Friday, she was immediately met with resistance. Small business owners, already struggling this season, were not happy with being put in a position of forcing customers to wear masks or face fines. However, county officials said they would not waste resources enforcing the mandate.
Fifteen counties across the state are reportedly refusing to comply with the mandate in a stunning rebuke of the governor.
Rather than standing her ground, Hochul chose to cave. After putting the counties in charge of enforcing the mandate, on Monday she said she wouldn’t force them to comply—effectively backtracking on her own mandate, which she previously said was necessary to “protect the health of New Yorkers and to protect the health of our economy.”
“We have left this to the counties to enforce. We hope that counties will enforce it,” Hochul told reporters. “We expect that they will, we hope that they will, it’s in the best interest of public health. But it also comes down to individual businesses doing the right thing as well. We’re asking businesses to protect their customers and to protect their employees.”
On Monday, I went grocery shopping maskless in a non-compliance county and was never asked to put a mask on to comply with the mandate. There have also been reports statewide of businesses not enforcing the mandate since it took effect.
Hochul is also getting criticized for even trying to implement it in the first place.
“Governor Hochul derided the use of these types of measures just days ago,” David LeFeber, chairman of the Livingston County Board of Supervisors, said in a statement. “Now, we are back to Cuomo-era approaches. That is an unfortunate, and swift switch of position by the governor.”
Hochul became governor of New York on August 24, 2021, after Andrew Cuomo resigned in disgrace due to multiple allegations of sexual misconduct. Her mask mandate has proven to be a spectacular failure of leadership.
“Kathy Hochul is in over her head,” New York GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy said in a statement. “First she comes out with a ridiculous mask mandate that will crush New York small businesses. Then after counties pushed back, she immediately folded and said she wouldn’t force them to comply.”
Langworthy called Hochul “weak and not ready to lead.”
“Kathy Hochul just doesn’t have the experience or competence to be the chief executive of the Empire State,” Langworthy added.