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Republican County Executives Say They Will Not Enforce New York's Indoor Mask Mandate

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Several Republican New York county executives are refusing to enforce the state's new mandate, CBS2's Tony Aiello reported Monday.

With 75% of eligible Putnam County residents at least partially vaccinated, County Executive MaryEllen Odell is defying the state health department mandate requiring masks unless entrance is limited to only the vaccinated.

"We are not enforcing this," Odell said. "I will not put health department employees out on the street to enforce something as if they were a law enforcement agency."

The Dutchess County Executive is also refusing to enforce the mandate.

"These are beleaguered small businesses all throughout the State of New York, have just been decimated in some ways and overwhelmed in others. They just can't get up on their feet if every day there's this new expectation for them," said County Executive Marc Molinaro.

When asked what his objection to the mandate is, Rockland County Executive Ed Day said logistics.

Day told CBS2's Dick Brennan he doesn't want to take employees away from vaccinations to police mask-wearing.

"How many calls I got today, I had a woman who went to Kohl's department store, and they almost threw her out of the store because she didn't have a mask on. This is not the way to handle a crisis," Day said.

On Monday, Gov. Kathy Hochul didn't exactly take a hardline on counties refusing to enforce the order.

"We hope that counties will enforce it. We expect that they will," Hochul said.

But, drive around Putnam County and you'll notice a trend, Aiello said. National chain stores tend to have mask mandate signs right on the front door. Locally-owned businesses, not so much.

One pharmacy in Brewster will ask customers to mask up. But there is some relief the county won't be enforcing the mandate.

"In a sense, it's a little easy for us because we're not being put in the position that if we don't do it, we're gonna go to jail! We don't want that," said pharmacist Tom Kaimakides.

The risk is a $1,000 fine, not jail.

Even in counties where the mandate is not enforced, expect to see more signs requiring people to mask up.

CBS2's Dick Brennan contributed to this report.

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