New York Lawmakers Pass 24 COVID-19 Bills, Approve Face Coverings
New York lawmakers approved a number of COVID-19 related bills, including making it legal to wear face coverings in public.
On Wednesday, the New York State Senate passed 24 bills, mostly COVID-19 related, during a marathon session. It marked the first action lawmakers have taken since passing the budget in April.
Lawmakers passed several measures including the reversal of a ban on wearing face masks in public. The current law, which dates back to 1845, made it illegal to loiter while wearing a mask. The law was crafted to stop protesters who wore masks and disguises to attack police, the New York Daily News reports.
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A new bill was needed after Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order requiring all New York residents to wear face covers in public when social distancing isn't possible.
Other legislation included a ban on evictions to residential tenants who suffered financial problems due to the pandemic, banning utility companies from shutting off service during a state emergency, more whistleblower protections for healthcare workers and making sure contact tracers represent the communities where they are contact tracing.
A bill that would make price gouging of medical and other supplies illegal is also on its way to Cuomo's desk.
“It is vitally important that the state has all the necessary tools to protect New Yorkers against those seeking to take advantage of this pandemic,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a press release. “This common-sense measure will enable my office to better protect consumers, small businesses, health care providers, and even the state from price gouging. Over the last three months, we have received over 5,500 price gouging complaints related to COVID-19, which is why we are focused on protecting all New Yorkers now and in the future. We look forward to seeing this bill signed into law and continuing our work to protect New Yorkers. I thank Senator Hoylman and Assemblywoman Rozic for their support and partnership in passing this important legislation.”
Cuomo hasn't publicly announced if he will sign any bill, which he must do before a bill becomes a law.