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Cuomo violated his own mask rules while in Georgia, declined to self-quarantine on return to N.Y.

The governor cited his status as an 'essential worker' to avoid self-quarantining

Updated: July 23, 2020 - 11:48pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was recently spotted in Georgia violating the mask and social-distancing rules he has imposed upon his own state.

Cuomo, a Democrat, also declined to self-quarantine after returning to New York, despite his emergency orders dictating quarantine protocols for many New York residents who have traveled to Georgia and other states.

Cuomo in April ordered that "any individual [in New York] who is over 2 and able to medically tolerate a face-covering shall be required to cover their nose and mouth with a mask or cloth face-covering when in a public place and unable to maintain, or when not maintaining, social distance." 

The governor on June 30 also began requiring individuals traveling from Georgia to New York to self-quarantine for two weeks upon entering New York, an addition to an earlier quarantine order for several other states. Georgia on that day had "reached the level of spread required to qualify for New York's travel advisory," Cuomo said. 

Yet on the recent trip to Georgia the governor was seen violating his own mask order, hugging and standing close to Savannah Mayor Van Johnson without wearing a mask, as seen on an online video. 

Both politicians had earlier fielded criticism for being seen "elbow-bumping" without wearing masks, with Johnson admitting to media that the two men "messed up" in doing so. Johnson during that press conference did not acknowledge the hug the two men shared; Cuomo has also not publicly acknowledged the hug. 

The state of Georgia does not have a mask mandate, but several jurisdictions including Atlanta have imposed one. 

Following that trip, Cuomo earlier this week was asked by media if he would be self-quarantining after his return from Georgia. The governor said he would not, declaring himself an "essential worker" under his own rule's exemptions. His administration also noted that the quarantine rule does not apply to individuals passing through a flagged state for less than 24 hours. Cuomo said he would take a COVID-19 test upon returning to New York to ensure he was virus-free. 

The governor's office did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday morning regarding the mask-less hug he gave Johnson and whether he would nevertheless consider self-quarantining given the elevated infection risk he faces after his embrace of the Savannah mayor.