COVID NYC update: People who refuse to wear masks will be fined

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NEW YORK CITY (WABC) – People who refuse to wear a face mask after being offered a mask or being reminded to put on their own face a fine of $ 1,000 in New York City. fined for refusing to mask the first day of a promised crackdown in a handful of New York City neighborhoods that have seen an increase in coronavirus infections, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday.City workers distributed thousands of masks in neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens with rising infection rates on Tuesday, the first day that fines for refusing to wear a mask were threatened, de Blasio said. “We have seen good compliance,” said de Blasio. “When people were met, when there was a discussion, we saw a very high level of compliance. No summons were necessary yesterday. ”

Many neighborhoods in New York and elsewhere in the state where increasing rates of positive coronavirus tests have been reported are Orthodox Jewish strongholds, and de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo have said they are meeting with leaders of those communities to stress the importance of complying with coronavirus guidelines. But

Cuomo appears to disparage New York City’s efforts to contain the virus by distributing masks in neighborhoods where cases are increasing.

“‘Can I give you a mask?’ We are past that point, ”Cuomo said on a conference call that followed De Blasio’s briefing on the coronavirus. “It’s not compliance. It is public education. We have gone beyond educating the public. We have been doing this since February. ”

The mayor and governor, both Democrats, have had a difficult relationship for years and have frequently shot each other during the pandemic.

“They defy the law and that’s when the law has to be applied,” Cuomo said. He added that in this “political climate” he understands that politicians try to make people happy and that fines make people “unhappy”. “Do you know what makes people really unhappy?” Dying makes people miserable. Their loved one makes people miserable, their child goes to school and COVID makes them miserable, ”Cuomo said.

New York City hit a recovery milestone on Wednesday, as dining at indoor restaurants was allowed for the first time since March, but with restrictions including a 25 percent capacity limit and checks on mandatory temperature.

De Blasio said restaurant inspectors would focus on restaurants in neighborhoods where infection rates have increased.

“There is going to be a very rigorous inspection effort in these postal codes,” said de Blasio. “And we’ll be looking carefully to make sure every restaurant follows the rules. ”

400 NYPD officers, 250 law enforcement officers and 300 members of the Test and Trace Corps will work to ensure residents of these neighborhoods wear masks and social distancing.

Cuomo said New York has 5,000 state troops, which is not enough for him to enforce the mask law in New York. The governor said the city has 35,000 NYPD officers and that he would need the local government to assign a number of their police officers to the task force, “and I will apply it with the task force because it will save Lives “.

If enforcement efforts with social distancing and wearing masks do not work, Mayor de Blasio said tougher measures would be taken, including shutting down non-essential businesses and banning more public gatherings. of 10 people.

“Nobody wants this to happen if it can be avoided,” de Blasio said.

New York City reported a daily positivity rate above the threshold for keeping schools open on Tuesday, but on Wednesday the city again reported a daily positivity rate of less than 1% to 0.94%.
Mayor de Blasio said the city would keep schools open or closed based on the 7-day average, not the daily number.

About 300,000 public elementary school students returned to class on Tuesday. Middle and high school students show up at the end of the week. About half of all families in public schools have opted for in-person learning and the other half have chosen to keep children at home for distance learning.

So far, the teachers’ union has said more than 100 teachers and 10 students have tested positive.

Mayor de Blasio noted that nine postal codes are experiencing most of the increases. And on Wednesday, six of the nine continued to see increases.

RELATED: Stay Informed With ABC7’s NYC COVID-19 Positivity Rate Tracking

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