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New Yorkers Have Been Ordered To Wear Masks In Public When Social Distancing Is Not Possible

Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order that all New Yorkers must wear masks or cover their faces in public when social distancing is not possible.

Last updated on April 15, 2020, at 4:13 p.m. ET

Posted on April 15, 2020, at 1:47 p.m. ET

Mary Altaffer / AP

People wear face masks to protect against the coronavirus as they stand in line to go grocery shopping in the Corona neighborhood of Queens, New York.

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All New Yorkers have been ordered to wear masks or face coverings in public situations where they cannot maintain 6 feet of distance from others, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday.

He issued an executive order that will go into effect Saturday in a bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“If you are going to be in a situation in public where you come into contact with other people in a situation that is not socially distanced, you must have a mask or a cloth covering nose and mouth,” Cuomo said during his daily press briefing.

Examples of situations where New Yorkers would be required to cover their faces include riding on public transit or walking on a busy sidewalk where it is likely impossible to maintain social distancing, Cuomo said.

There may eventually be civil penalties for those who violate the order, but as of now there are none, the governor said. He said local governments will enforce the order.

Earlier in the week, Cuomo said he would issue an executive order directing employers to provide essential workers with cloth or surgical masks free of charge to wear when interacting with the public.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Wednesday also issued an executive order requiring people to wear masks or face coverings inside any retail establishments, including grocery stores, pharmacies, and convenience stores, as well as when riding any form of public transit in the state.

Maryland's order, which will go into effect Saturday at 7 a.m., also requires essential retail locations to implement social distancing measures and for their staffers to cover their faces, Hogan said.

In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf signed an order Wednesday requiring all workers at essential businesses to wear masks and mandating that most customers who visit the businesses must wear masks or be denied entry.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.