Businesses, officials react to judge’s ruling on Hochul’s mask mandate

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Gov. Kathy Hochul’s statewide mask mandate for indoor public places has been blocked. A New York State Supreme Court Justice in Nassau County ruled it unconstitutional leading to an immediate end to its enforcement.

Though, individual businesses, schools, or other facilities can still individually require people to wear a mask.

News10NBC also learned the State Education Department announced its mask mandate remains in effect for schools based on the State’s intent to appeal.

If there was one type of business that wanted to do away with Hochul’s mask mandate, it was gyms. Right after Judge Thomas Rademaker ruled the mandate unconstitutional, News10NBC contacted Blink Fitness.

Area Manager JJ Potrikus said this reminds him of when masking ended for a bit last year.

"I remember May of 2021 as it was yesterday. We saw a ton of people who were sort of on the fence who didn’t want to come back to fitness just yet because they just didn’t want to exercise in a mask. They came back in May when we were able to you know eliminate the mask mandate," Potrikus said.

State Senator and Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt said Hochul’s mask mandate should’ve gone through proper channels, and not just put into law via Executive Order.

"If it was brought to the Legislature we would debate it. The public would be very aware of it. We’d have different arguments, different sides, and obviously, there’d be a vote," Ortt said.

The action was brought by downstate parents on behalf of their children in response to school mask mandates. Monday night, ROC For Educational Freedom applauded the decision and recommended that parents send their children to school in the morning without their masks if they want to.

"This is a huge win for parents tonight. This is a huge win for New York State," said Founder Christina Higley.

Ortt said we need to move away from mandates, and more toward guidance.

"We all know about masks and socially distancing, and proper hygiene, and getting your shots, or protecting yourself and family, but I think we can do that with guidance, and not with mandates," Ortt said.

He went on to say individual school districts, and private businesses can still require masks. Blink Fitness will reinstate its previous policy.

"If you’re vaccinated you don’t have to wear a mask, if you’re unvaccinated we ask that you wear a mask. I think we’re going to go right back to that policy until we hear otherwise from the state," Potrikus said.

Gov. Hochul released this statement saying, "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."

Her mask mandate went into effect in mid-December and was scheduled for a possible extension in February.