Same NY governor who demanded masking during pandemic now wants to CRIMINALIZE wearing a mask on the subway
06/24/2024 // Cassie B. // Views

After insisting people wear masks and get vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic, New York Governor Kathy Hochul now wants to criminalize people wearing masks in public spaces.

The topic came up while the governor was being interviewed by CNN, when she was asked if she supported the call to ban masks on the New York City subway by Jewish leaders. Claiming a rise in anti-Semitism by anti-Israel protesters, leaders such as Anti-Defamation League Regional Director Scott Richmond have said that enacting mask laws would reduce this behavior.

Some of the incidents Jewish leaders have cited in their calls for a mask ban include an individual at a protest in Union Square saying that he wished “Hitler was still here” to wipe Jewish people out and a vandalism incident in which red paint was tossed at the homes of the director of the Brooklyn Museum and Jewish board members.

The leaders are now calling to restore New York state's anti-mask law, which was suspended during the pandemic to accommodate mask mandates; the law had previously banned gatherings of people using masks to cover their faces, with a penalty of 15 days in jail. Restoring it, they maintain, would mean that protesters cannot behave anonymously and avoid punishment.

Hochul told CNN that she was considering reenacting the ban on masks on the subway, a position she repeated during an Albany news conference, where she said New York officials would “not tolerate individuals using masks to evade being responsible for criminal or threatening behavior.”

It’s an interesting stance for someone who fought so hard to force people to wear masks just a few years ago. During the pandemic, Hochul announced that everyone aged two and older who was medically able to tolerate a mask had to wear one in all indoor public places whether they were vaccinated or not, unless the place in question required proof of vaccination to enter it. Individuals who violated this faced a fine of $1000 per violation.

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Mask ban would be challenging to enforce

Hochul acknowledged that there may be “legitimate reasons” people wear masks on the subway, citing everything from COVID-19 concerns to religious beliefs, and said that such individuals would be exempt from the ban.

“You certainly have to say there are major exemptions,” she said.

This type of mixed message – going from a mask requirement to an outright ban – is nothing new for liberals, and reason does seem to have gone out the window when it comes to pursuing people critical of Israel at all costs, but it’s not clear how this rule would be enforced; someone who truly does want to obscure their identity could simply claim they have a medical or religious reason to wear the mask.

It is not known how far Hochul would get with such a measure considering the New York legislature ended its 2024 session earlier this month; lawmakers will not be back until January.

New York State Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris (D-Queens) said that he isn’t sure such a rule would work.

“I think the governor has gotten ahead of herself. This is not something that has been seriously discussed with the Legislature. I think it’s a very serious proposal with all sorts of ramifications that may be unrelated to what she’s trying to get at,” he said, adding that the idea of monitoring what people wear on public transportation was “fraught with peril.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James announced in a recent statement that she is “in discussions” with Hochul about implementing the mask ban.

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