County Executive-elect Blakeman: Wearing a mask is a personal choice
Nassau County Executive-elect Bruce Blakeman defended his decision this morning to not enforce the state’s mask mandate once in office Jan. 1.
Blakeman touted the county’s 97% vaccination rate to be one of the reasons. In addition, the soon-to-be county executive said when talking to health care officials, it was clear the county was not in crisis mode with respect to the number of hospital beds and ICU beds currently occupied.
"I will instruct our health department and other departments to stand down and not enforce the mandate, not issue fines and tickets," said Blakeman.
When asked about what would constitute the county being in crisis mode, Blakeman stated in consultation with health care officials that determination would be made based on the availability of hospital and ICU beds.
"Right now, that is not a concern for them, if it becomes it, we will reevaluate. That would be the driving factor to make my opinion," said Blakeman.
Blakeman said he is leaving it up to the individual business or schools to make a determination on enforcing mask mandates.
"We are two years into the pandemic. We have learned a lot, there are vaccines available, boosters available. I think we have to make these decisions on a day-to-day basis and evaluate what is going on. Wearing a mask is a personal choice," said Blakeman.
Some Long Island business owners are thrilled that Blakeman won't be enforcing the new mask mandate, saying that business is just starting to come back.
"I think that there are so many more important issues they need to worry about than chasing after people, worried about whether they're wearing masks," says Greg Vogel, owner of 2nd Street Gourmet Deli in Mineola.
Gov. Kathy Hochul, however, is also defending the mandate because she says it is meant to protect people and businesses from closing. .
"You don't know who's vaccinated and who is not so I would rather be safe than sorry," says Point Lookout resident Mary Viola.
Nassau's current County Executive Laura Curran says her administration is not "actively enforcing" the new vaccine or mask mandate but will respond to complaints.