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A New York State Supreme Court Justice overturned the state’s public mask mandate on Monday, saying the governor and top health official cannot enforce such rules without the approval of the state legislature.

Gobernadora Kathy Hochul (D) recreated the mandate of the mask in December amid the spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus, requiring people to wear face coverings in all public spaces that do not require vaccination for entry. It was set to expire on February 1, but drew a fierce backlash from lawmakers and businesses despite a spike in cases and a strained hospital system.

Hochul said his office was exploring how to take immediate action to reverse the ruling.

“My responsibility as governor is to protect New Yorkers during this public health crisis, and these measures help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and save lives,” she said in a statement. statement Monday. “We totally disagree with this ruling, and we are looking at all options to reverse this immediately.”

Judge Thomas Rademaker noted in his ruling that while there were “good intentions” behind the mask mandate, the power to do so rested with state lawmakers, not the governor’s office.

“To be clear, this court in no way intends this decision to question or opine on the efficacy, necessity, or requirement of face coverings as a means or tool to deal with the COVID-19 virus,” he wrote. “This court decides only the questions of whether the rule in question was properly enacted and, if so, whether it is enforceable.”

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, a vocal opponent of mask mandates, applauded the news on Monday, calling it a “big win for students and parents.”

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