New York City's Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced a city-wide fine of up to $1,000 for any residents or visitors who refuse to wear a mask in public.
The move comes as positive COVID-19 tests have risen above 3% for the city. A positive test does not indicate the presence of symptoms, and this rise in positive tests has not corresponded with an increase in hospitalizations or deaths.
De Blasio said the fine will be enforced by hundreds of mask patrols around the city.
"Anyone who is not wearing a face covering will be offered one, will be reminded it is required, and anyone who refuses to wear a face covering will be told that if they don't put one on they will be fined, and anyone who still refuses will be fined," de Blasio said during a press conference on Tuesday. "So that will happen aggressively."
De Blasio said that the goal of the patrols is to "give everyone a free face mask" and get them to wear it.
"We don't want to fine people," he said. "If we have to, we will. And that will be starting on a large scale today."
De Blasio said his efforts are particularly focused on nine predominately Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn, where Jewish communities recently celebrated the holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
In addition to saying he would visit with Jewish leaders in the targeted communities, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also commented on the mask mandate.
"I don't care what your political opinion is," Cuomo said. "I don't care what your religious opinion is. Mask wearing is a law."
🔦 The policies of the governor and mayor have drawn criticism regarding what constitutional authority allows them to mandate what citizens wear, where they gather, or how close they stand to each other under threat of punishment.