The New York State Supreme Court has struck down Governor Kathy Hochul's statewide mask mandate, calling it unconstitutional.

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A state judge ruled on Monday that the governor and state Department of Health did not have the authority to enforce the mandate without approval from the legislature, and deemed it unconstitutional.  The documents released by the court state:

While the intentions of Commissioner Bassett and Governor Hochul appear to be well aimed squarely at doing what they believe is right to protect the citizens of New York State, they must take their case to the State Legislature

The decision was handed down by Judge Thomas Rademaker of Nassau County.  He wrote Hochul does not have the authority to impose the mandate since the emergency powers that the Governor once had, are no longer in place.

The Governor said in response to the Supreme Court's decision:

My responsibility as Governor is to protect New Yorkers throughout this public health crisis, and these measures help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and save lives. We strongly disagree with this ruling, and we are pursuing every option to reverse this immediately.

The mandate was enacted on December 13th of last year, as the Governor made a decision in order to combat the winter surge of COVID-19 and the Omnicron variant.  The mandate was set to expire on January 15th but was extended for an additional two weeks. Violators in the Empire States face fines of up to $1,000 and other civil and criminal penalties.

Along with the mask mandate, the state is asking that all eligible New Yorkers of all ages to get fully vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible.

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