On April 15th, Governor Cuomo released an executive order requiring “any individual who is over age two and able to medically tolerate a face-covering shall be required to cover their nose and mouth with a mask or cloth face-covering when in a public place and unable to maintain, or when not maintaining, social distance.”

To be clear, a simple cloth covering like a bandana or piece of cloth suffices in terms of this directive, and masks need only be on when you cannot be far enough away from others who you are not regularly exposed to already because they are not part of your shelter-in-place isolation unit. Also note that while the directive states that face-coverings need only be worn if you are “unable to maintain, or when not maintaining, social distance,” making it okay to not have your face covered all the time, we recommend as a good practice to make your mask or face-covering visible when not wearing it (e.g. around your neck), signalling to others that you are prepared to cover your mouth and nose if need be. Please also be aware, it is hard to know who is and is not part of a household unit, there are many different types of household configurations, so don’t assume people are isolating in groups that look like what is considered a traditional family unit.

There is a process for reporting when residents see that these rules might be being broken. The New York State PAUSE Enforcement Assistance Task Force assists local authorities with the enforcement of Executive Orders 202.6, 202.7, 202.8, 202.10, and 202.11 that directed all non-essential businesses to close their in-person operations and banned all non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason.

Suspected violations can be reported through their online form at https://mylicense.custhelp.com/app/ask or by calling 1-833-789-0470. Note: specific complaints from employees against their employers should be directed to the Department of Labor through their online form (https://labor.ny.gov/…/laborsta…/coronavirus-complaints.shtm).

It is important to note that the state has instructed authorities to use the least invasive enforcement approach necessary to achieve compliance. In other words, unless the circumstances are particularly egregious, authorities are using the first violation as an opportunity to inform New Yorkers of the orders and their responsibility to protect the health and safety of themselves and others. Subsequent non-compliance may be subject to enforcement. To date, for the most part, our police have consistently experienced that a little bit of education is resulting in compliance.

We continue to strongly encourage that people who are not compromised get outside in public spaces and to shop at essential businesses for what they need, as long as it is done safely and aligned with the state’s social distancing directives. This week, New Paltz received 3,000 washable cloth masks, provided by the federal government via the county, to distribute in our community. The Town and Village Boards of New Paltz have decided to prioritize distributing these masks to residents who are the most likely to not be able to afford or have access to them. (The county is already distributing masks to all Project Resilience recipients.)

As such, we have developed a plan to ensure that residents are aware of the guidelines and have face-coverings if they need them:
* Added signage in the form of lawn signs along and adjacent to our trails and open spaces, as well as flyers to be distributed to and posted at local businesses
* Added police foot and bike patrols on days with increased outdoor activity
* Elected officials as well as members of the police and fire departments and the rescue squad will be distributing masks at supermarkets and apartment complexes starting this weekend, we will provide more details on times and locations soon

* Masks can be picked up at:
-Family of New Paltz 10am to 5pm Mon thru Fri (51 N Chestnut St)
-Food Not Bombs, across the street from Wells Fargo (29 Main), Wednesdays from 5:30pm to 6:00pm
-New Paltz Police Station at any time (83 South Putt Corners Road)
* Other non-profit partners that serve marginalized communities will be provided with masks to give to their clients, we will provide more details soon

And of course we are continuing to post about proper social distancing on our websites and social media, and to regularly update our online COVID document with the latest news and resources. Please find and bookmark that here: bit.ly/NewPaltz-COVID19

Public Notice: Mask Distribution & Executive Orders