New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday that subway riders will face a $50 fine if they choose not to wear a mask.
The initiative, which begins Monday, allows NYPD cops and Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) police the authority to give subway, bus, Long Island Rail Road, and Metro-North riders summonses if they do not wear a mask during their commute.
“I said to the MTA, ‘You have to come up with an enforcement plan for people not wearing masks,’” Cuomo said during a telephone press briefing with reporters. “This is for the handful of people who are not compliant.”
“Because compliance has gotten so much better, we can now take the next step,” Cuomo added.
MTA Chairman Pat Foye joined Cuomo on the call and suggested that wearing a face mask is a sign of “respect” for others on board.
“It is reassuring to other passengers who play by the rules that mask wearing is mandatory,” Foye said. “It’s a matter of respect for co-commuters and employees.”
“One or two people don’t have a right … to scare people from the system,” said interim New York City Transit Authority President Sarah Feinberg.
According to the MTA, 93 percent of riders are wearing masks with 15 percent of those wearing them improperly. The newly announced fines will be for those who do not have a mask on at all. Feinberg said:
This is targeted at a small population of folks who are refusing to wear a mask. There may be folks in the system who are wearing a mask improperly, whether the weather is hot, or they’re uncomfortable or for whatever reason … But generally, those are not the folks who are going to refuse to put the mask on properly when told to.
The news comes amid the reopening of New York City restaraunts for dine-in services and other local businesses that have been closed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.