The city will attempt to crack down on masked criminals by urging stores to require customers to remove their masks when they first walk in, Mayor Eric Adams said this week.
Shop and bodega owners should “not allow people to enter the store without taking off their face mask,” Adams said in an interview Monday, maintaining the measure would deter shoplifting and “serious crimes” alike.
Customers would still be allowed to mask up inside — but not until surveillance cameras recorded their faces, the mayor said.
What You Need To Know
- The city will attempt to crack down on masked criminals by urging stores to require customers to remove their masks when they first walk in, Mayor Eric Adams says
- Customers would still be allowed to mask up inside — but not until surveillance cameras recorded their faces, the mayor said
- Adams said the city has partnered with a bodega association to create signs asking customers to briefly remove their masks
“We got so used to masks that we don’t realize there’s a large volume of people that are wearing it not because of COVID, but because they’re criminals,” he said at a news conference Tuesday. “Not having the video surveillance, we’re allowing the repeated offenders to continue until we catch them.”
The city has partnered with a bodega association to create signs asking customers to briefly remove their masks, Adams said.
At a Monday press conference held outside an Upper East Side deli where an employee was fatally shot during a robbery last week, United Bodegas of America representative Fernando Mateo called the policy “crucial to our city.”
The still-at-large gunman who fatally shot the 67-year-old employee was wearing a mask during the robbery, the NYPD said.
“These criminals have gotten so comfortable, so comfortable, that they’re doing it repeatedly and things get out of hand, and people are killed,” Mateo said. “This is an all-out effort to keep our city safe.”
Adams’ remarks on Tuesday echoed those of NYPD Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey, who proposed the policy at a news conference late last month.
“We’re asking [local] businesses to make it a condition of entry that people should show their face, that they identify themselves,” Maddrey said. “Pre-pandemic, most businesses wouldn’t allow you to walk in with a mask and latex gloves on.”
The city recorded 17,411 robberies in 2022, up from 13,371 in 2019 and 13,831 in 2021, NYPD data shows. Year to date as of Feb. 26, the NYPD had logged 2,415 robberies citywide, down from 2,465 during the same period last year.
Asked to address concerns that the policy would leave immunocompromised New Yorkers afraid to enter businesses, Adams on Tuesday said he was “not going to interpret the fear of someone, because fear is personalized to who you are and how you’re feeling.”
“If someone is immunocompromised and they believe that, ‘If I take my mask off for three seconds, that I may catch something,’ I gotta respect that,” he said.
He also, however, maintained some New Yorkers were not masking up with COVID-19 in mind.
“Now, don’t kid yourself that everyone that’s wearing a mask is feeling immunocompromised,” he said. “Don’t believe that hustle.”
Businesses including high-end jewelry shops should consider using a buzzer system to keep customers who refuse to unmask outside, the mayor said — a measure Mateo suggested on Monday.
“For those that want to maybe criticize what we are asking for, we invite them to come and work one day or one night in a bodega, and live what these people are living so that they understand that we are not trying to pick on anybody,” Mateo said. “We are just trying to get back home alive and safe to our families.”