Oneonta Will; Cooperstown Unsure
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – Mayor Gary Herzig said a few minutes ago that Governor Cuomo yesterday directed municipalities to enforce a state Department of Health directive allowing localities to fine people who do not wear masks up to $1,000 per violation.
Fearful of what 7,000 college students may bring with them this fall, Herzig said, “I don’t think the state is saying local governments should decide whether to enforce it or not. The message from the Governor’s Office is that it’s a law and we’re expected to enforce it.”
He continued, “Our approach is, we will enforce it because it’s important. We see what’s happening in the areas of the country where it isn’t. We’re going to have 7,000 students from all 50 states in the nation. We expect them to follow the regulations; we are going to have to do it ourselves.”
In Cooperstown, where the issue was debated at a Village Board meeting last week, Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch today said if the governor issued such an order, she’s unaware of it.
The latest she’s heard about is a Thursday, July 9, state Department of Health amendment that allows localities to fine people who refused to social-distance or wear masks up to $1,000 per violation, with the option to do so left to the locality.
In Cooperstown’s case, she said, the village has just launched a “Masks on Main” promotion, encouraging tourists and residents alike to wear masks and to social-distance. Her inclination is to wait and see how the promotion goes.
She also pointed out that, with only two active police officers on the Cooperstown force, the village simply lacks the person-power to take on a potentially large enforcement challenge.
“I walked down Main Street today. There were people I didn’t recognize and people I did who were really kind of wearing them,” she said. “To my mind, there’s a high degree of people being compliant in wearing masks.”