NEW YORK - People who refuse to wear face masks in neighborhoods where COVID is surging will be fined and private schools there face possible closure, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.
The city is sending "hundreds" of staffers to hand out masks and spread information in parts of Brooklyn and Queens undergoing an alarming surge in coronavirus, he said.
Gravesend/Homecrest, Midwood, Kew Gardens, Edgemere/Far Rockaway, Borough Park, Bensonhurst/Mapleton, Gerritsen Beach/Homecrest/Sheepshead Bay and Flatlands/Midwood have been fueling a surge in the city's coronavirus rate, which reached 3.25%. The rate had been in the 1% range over the summer.
City workers will hand out masks to residents of nabes undergoing a surge and if individuals refuse to wear them, they will be fined, de Blasio said.
Also, if private schools don't follow rules such as mask use and maintaining at least 6 feet of distance between individuals, they face closure, the mayor said.
"That will happen aggressively, clearly," he said of the mask crackdown. "We don't want to fine people. If we have to, we will. That will be starting on a large scale today."
During the spring, the city had a policy of fining and even arresting people who didn't wear masks and follow social-distancing rules, but pulled back after it was found the NYPD disproportionately busted people of color.
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