An executive order in Oneida County is taking extra steps to ensure residents are wearing masks, or other face coverings, when visiting public places.
The executive order, which goes into effect later this week, moves to enforce the statewide mask mandate that was issued by Governor Andrew Cuomo earlier this month.
"I know it created a big stir, it's about keeping our community safe, and we'll continue to do what it takes to keep our community safe,” says Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente.
It comes as the county's total coronavirus cases climbed over 380. Over the weekend, the county announced a potential public exposure that involved a resident who later tested positive, not wearing a mask.
"If we do not reduce the spread in the next couple weeks, the ability of reopening our community in a gradual phased-in approach will not take place,” Picente said.
Businesses across the county will be asked to require their customers to have their faces covered.
"It will be up to businesses to enforce,” says Picente, “You will not be arrested for not wearing a face mask, but you should not be let into establishments without a face covering."
Business owners that do not comply could face a Class A misdemeanor and a fine up to $2,000.
Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol says law enforcement will develop a plan after reviewing the order.
"I can only assume that our main goal is going to be education. Because obviously, the whole purpose of this particular order, like the ones that have come before, is to keep our community all working together as far as stopping the spread," said Maciol.
Picente says enforcement will be based on complaints that have already been received.
Both the county executive and sheriff stress these punishments are not the preferred route, and that these actions are being made in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Oneida County is set to hand out 50,000 cloth masks to municipalities, which will be distributed to neighbors.