NY Mask Mandate Thrown Out. What Does it Mean for NJ?
A judge in New York has thrown out the Empire State's sweeping mask mandate.
The mandate was announced by Gov. Kathy Hochul in an effort to stop the spread of the omicron variant.
However, a supreme court judge says Hochul had no authority to enact such a mandate without the approval of the state legislature or without a state of emergency in place. The mandate is now unenforceable, according to the judge.
While the judge noted Gov. Hochul appeared to be "well aimed at squarely doing what (she) believes is right to protect the citizens of New York," the legislature must be involved in the passage of such mandates.
Hochul issued a statement saying she intends to appeal the ruling. "We strongly disagree with this ruling," Hochul said, "We are pursuing every option to reverse this immediately."
Unlike Gov. Phil Murphy, Hochul did not declare a new public health emergency. If she had done so, it is unlikely the court would have ruled against her mandate.
All of Murphy's executive orders were due to expire earlier this month, including his controversial mask mandates in schools.
He had asked the legislature to extend some of his pandemic powers, but they refused.
That is when Murphy declared a new public health emergency and not only extended his executive order on masking in schools, but then signed a new executive order requiring all healthcare workers to be fully vaccinated and boosted, or face termination. That order eliminated testing as an alternative to vaccination.
The new vaccine mandate also covers anyone working in a "congregate setting," which includes prisons.
Union officials with the New Jersey Police Benevolent Association are challenging the vaccine mandate on behalf of corrections officers.
New York State lawmakers did pass legislation that curtails the pandemic powers of that state's governor, which is something New Jersey legislators refused to do.
Democrats rejected a Republican sponsored measure that would have limited executive orders to 14 days, unless extended by a legislative vote.