Governor Hochul announces mask mandate beginning December 13, 2021

On Friday, December 10, 2021, Governor Hochul announced masks will be required to be worn in all indoor public places unless businesses or venues implement a vaccine requirement.  The mandate is in effect until February 1, 2022 after which the State will re-evaluate based on current conditions.

Immediately following the Governor’s announcement, the Department of Health issued guidance on the mask mandate.  If the business or venue does not implement a vaccine requirement, the mandate requires all persons, over age two and able to medically tolerate a face covering/mask, regardless of vaccination status, shall wear an appropriate face covering/mask while in any indoor public place.  “Indoor public place” has been defined as any indoor space that is not a private residence.

Businesses and venues who implement a proof of vaccination requirement can accept Excelsior Pass, Excelsior Pass Plus, SMART Health Cards issued outside of New York State, or a CDC Vaccination Card. Businesses are no longer permitted to use the “honor system” as proof of vaccination status.  In accordance with CDC’s definition of fully vaccinated, full-course vaccination is defined as 14 days past an individual’s last vaccination dose in their initial vaccine series (14 days past the second shot of a two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine; 14 days past the one-shot Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine). The State also accepts WHO-approved vaccines for these purposes. Parents and guardians can retrieve and store an Excelsior Pass and/or Excelsior Pass Plus for children or minors under legal guardianship.  If a vaccination requirement is implemented, those individuals that fail to provide proof of vaccination status or are unvaccinated are not permitted to enter the business.  There is no exemption for individuals who previously had COVID-19 or provide a negative COVID-19 test.

Businesses and venues that implement a proof of vaccination requirement must ensure that anyone 12 years of age or older is fully vaccinated before entering indoors.  Vaccines for children ages 5-11 have only been available since November 2021. Therefore, in order to enter a business or venue that implements a proof of vaccination requirement, children ages 5 – 11 only have to show proof of having had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccination.

Vaccines have been available for 16–17-year-olds since April 2021 and for 12-15-year-olds since May 2021. At the time of the determination, 63% of the 12-17 age group has been fully vaccinated in New York State.

Licensees conducting showings and open houses are subject to the same requirements.  While conducting a showing or open house of residential real property, the licensee is conducting business and the property would not be considered a “private residence” but a business.  It is up to the owner/landlord as to whether they require proof of vaccination or everybody has to wear a mask.  If the homeowner/landlord requires proof of vaccination, the licensee should take appropriate measures to verify the proof of vaccination using one of the methods outlined above.

For more information, please see the Governor’s announcement here:

NYSDOH Commissioner’s Determination:


For more information, NYSAR members may contact NYSAR’s Legal Hotline.  The Legal Hotline is available Monday-Friday 9:00am-4:00pm at 518-436-9727.