A new mask mandate appears to ban anyone who hasn't received a vaccine from dining indoors in New York State.

Today, Governor Hochul announced drastic measures to stop the spread of COVID-19. Cases in New York continue to climb as we head into the holiday season. This, says Hochul, is why major action is needed. The mandate forces businesses to implement a proof of vaccination requirement or institute a mandatory mask policy for all employees and customers. The mandate appears to essentially forbid restaurants from serving unvaccinated customers indoors.

The wording of the new mask requirement says that businesses must either check all customers' vaccine status before entering or make sure that anyone over the age of two wears a mask "at all times." Because it's technically impossible for anyone to eat with a mask on, this appears to mimic the vaccine mandate already in place for restaurants in New York City.

As of now, the new rules are set to go into effect on Monday, December 13, and continue at least through January 15. In a press release on Friday, Hochul said "I want to thank the more than 80 percent of New Yorkers who have done the right thing to get fully vaccinated. If others will follow suit, these measures will no longer be necessary."

County Executive Marc Molinaro says that he has not seen the official language about the mandate yet. "Again thanks to New York, with no details businesses are left to scramble and we have no insight to offer them."

We have asked for specific clarification about dining indoors but have not yet received official word. Starting Monday, businesses that do not follow the new mask or vaccine mandate will be subject to all civil and criminal penalties, including a maximum fine of $1,000 for each violation.

With many restaurants filled to capacity during the holiday season, a vaccine mandate would certainly go far to making sure all diners are better protected from spreading COVID-19. We will update this story as soon as we receive confirmation about the effect the new mandate will have on local restaurants

Below is each region's updated 7-day average percentage of positive test results:

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