ALBANY, N.Y. — New York’s indoor mask mandate will remain in effect after an appeals court judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked a lower-court ruling from a day before that had abruptly struck down the policy and created confusion across schools and businesses.
The decision Tuesday came one day after a ruling by Justice Thomas Rademaker, of state Supreme Court in Nassau County, who had said the rule requiring masks violated the state Constitution.
His ruling had abruptly nullified part of the rule imposed by Gov. Kathy Hochul last month, amid a surge in coronavirus cases driven by the omicron variant, that required masks or proof of full vaccination at all indoor public spaces statewide.
Hochul immediately vowed to fight the decision, with Letitia James, the state attorney general, filing a motion to stay the ruling in an attempt to put it on hold while the state filed a formal appeal.
On Tuesday afternoon, following a brief hearing, Justice Robert J. Miller, the state appeals court judge, sided with the state and granted the stay, effectively allowing the mask rule to go back into effect temporarily. Miller scheduled another hearing on the matter for Friday morning.
Despite the reprieve, the ruling injected a jolt of uncertainty across the state at a time when New York is still grappling with a surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations and left parents and teachers scrambling to decipher whether children would be required to wear masks in schools.
While officials said the ruling only affected the state mask rule and did not supersede any local or federal rules around masking, state officials scrambled Monday night to let hundreds of school districts know that they should continue to follow the mask rule while the legal issues were ironed out.
The ruling also did not appear to reverse local mandates. In New York City, for example, City Hall officials emphasized that the policy requiring students and staff members to wear masks in city schools, which was in place before the state mandate, remained in effect.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority sought to reassure riders that the ruling had no effect on the city’s subways and buses or its regional commuter trains, noting that federal regulations required masks on public transit.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.