Assemblymember Dan Quart Introduces Legislation to Decriminalize Face Coverings in Public Spaces

Assemblymember Dan Quart’s bill (A10446/S08415) to remove face coverings from the criminal code passed in the New York State Assembly and Senate earlier today

New York, NY – On April 17, Governor Cuomo issued an executive order requiring all New Yorkers under the age of 2 to wear a face covering in public when social distancing isn’t possible. Despite the order, wearing a face mask in public is still a criminal offense under New York State law.

Penal Law 240.35(4) states: “A person is guilty of loitering when: Being masked or in any manner disguised by unusual or unnatural attire or facial alteration, loiters, remains or congregates in a public place with other persons so masked or disguised, or knowingly permits or aids persons so masked or disguised to congregate in a public place…”

“This is a disaster waiting to happen,” said Assemblymember Dan Quart, the bill’s author. “The continued criminalization of face coverings exposes men of color to police harassment. If we are to stop the spread of COVID-19, we must ensure that everyone feels safe wearing a mask in public, without the threat of arrest, prosecution, or worse.”