Mayor Adams backs mask ban, is vague on health concerns

NEW YORK — Mayor Eric Adams on Monday reiterated his support for a ban on face masks proposed last week by Gov. Kathy Hochul, but he did not say how such a ban should account for people wearing masks out of medical necessity.

Hochul floated the idea of a ban last Thursday after masked pro-Palestinian protesters menacingly demanded that Zionists raise their hands on a packed subway car because “this is your chance to get out.”

Adams has come out for such a move as well, saying at a City Hall press conference Monday that he’s had “several conversations with the governor” about it and that he strongly supports a ban on subways and at protests.

“Covering your face while you do terrible things is not new. There were these guys that used to ride around with hoods in the Deep South,” he said, referring to the Ku Klux Klan. “Cowards cover their faces. If you believe in something, then stand up and show your face.”

Masks have become common at recent protests against Israel’s military response to the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks by Hamas. New York State put a ban against masks into effect in 1845, but that was lifted amid the COVID pandemic when they became a necessity to prevent spread of the disease.

While COVID cases have dropped sharply since the height of the pandemic, many who are immunocompromised continue to wear them in public.

Asked how that should be accounted for in a new ban, Adams acknowledged that such a measure is “all about the proper implementation,” but he did not go into any detail about what that might look like.

His press team also didn’t immediately respond to questions about how such a ban would take health factors into account.