In an executive order signed last weekend, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered that, for all “essential” businesses or entities, any employees present in the workplace must wear “face coverings” when in direct contact with customers or members of the public.  The order provides that the businesses must provide such face coverings to employees at the business’s own expense.  Notably, the order does not require employers to provide medical-grade masks or respirators.  Instead, its use of the term “face coverings” seems consistent with a recent advisory from the New York Department of Health, which supports the use of “cloth face coverings” by members of the public and strongly advises that surgical masks and N-95 respirators be reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders.

The order may be enforced by local governments or local law enforcement under the New York Public Health Law, which provides for fines and other penalties in the event of violations.

The order takes effect on Wednesday, April 15 at 8 p.m.


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