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Cuomo clarifies executive order on masks across New York

It does not automatically require someone to wear a mask when they go outdoors, but it should be used when taking public transit or using private transportation.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Thursday clarified the executive order he announced regarding the requirement for New Yorkers to wear masks in public, which is set to go into effect at 8 p.m. Friday.

The governor’s “mask mandate,” formally known as Executive Order 202.17, requires anyone venturing out into public places to wear some sort of cloth covering over their nose and mouth whenever social distancing -which he defines as being 6 feet away from another person- is impossible.

Therefore, it does not automatically require someone to wear a mask whenever they go outdoors.

Cuomo told reporters the edict should be considered by anyone as an absolute mandate, though, when taking public transit or using private transportation such as cabs or ride shares.

The governor says the rule applies to both passengers and vehicle operators.

“It is impossible to maintain social distancing when sitting next to each other on a train or a bus or in a cab,” Cuomo said.

At the same time, the executive order does not spell out penalties for violating the order.

“I can’t put masks on 17 million New Yorkers,” Cuomo conceded. “I don't even have the ability to enforce these measures on any scale if people say I'm not willing to do it.”

While noting that issuing an order mandating that individuals wear masks is extraordinary, Cuomo insists the measure will help further stem the tide of infections from coronavirus, and that residents will follow the law.

“I believe if the facts are presented to the people in this state, New Yorkers will do the right thing,” Cuomo said.

However, for even for those eagerly willing to follow Cuomo’s directive, finding a mask to wear may be difficult as many retailers are out of stock.

As well, those searching for masks to purchase on line may suddenly find ads for them popping up on their Facebook pages, where Melanie McGovern of the Better Business Bureau warned, "if you are finding these ads on social media if it's coming to your inbox and you didn't solicit them, there's a  really good chance that it's a fraudulent web site."

Still, those unable to get their hands on an actual mask should not fret, as the executive order does not prohibit you from fashioning your own face covering out of any cloth you might have.

In fact, in a recent video posted on YouTube, Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams demonstrated how, in 45 seconds, to fashion a mask that would meet he governor's mandate using a piece of cloth and rubber bands.

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