New York City authorities are calling for an end to the use of face masks inside delis after a bodega worker was brutally killed by a masked assailant, The New York Times reports.
This represents a reversal of the city’s earlier COVID-era mask mandates.
The NYPD has urged bodega owners to ban customers from wearing face masks, as the police have not yet arrested the suspected robber who is believed to have shot and killed a 67-year-old store clerk in the head.
Police are offering a $10,000 reward for information that could lead to the arrest of the suspect, while the United Bodegas of America is also offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the murderer.
Speaking outside the Daona Gourmet Deli and Grocery where the murder occurred, Police Chief Jeffrey Maddrey stated they had discussed “a very similar type of incident where a person was robbed, and during that press conference I made a plea to store owners as a condition of employment to have people remove their masks.”
Maddrey continued, “I’m going to double down on that plea again for one store owners commercial establishments especially if you’re using a buzzer system in some common-sense approach have people as a condition of employment show their face, remove their mask so that you know you’re safe.”
He also called on all New Yorkers to help make store owners feel safe by removing their masks when they enter.
The suspect wore a white suit and a dark face mask when he entered the bodega just before midnight.
He reportedly pistol-whipped the clerk before shooting him in the head.
The same suspect robbed a Bronx bodega on Melrose Avenue at gunpoint just 30 minutes later.
Some New Yorkers have blamed masks for allowing criminals to get away with murder and shoplifting.
One resident commented, “The masks are becoming a hindrance, and they are allowing people to get away with not just murder but also shoplifting.”
New York City Mayor Eric Adams echoed the NYPD’s call to ban masks and asked shop owners to refuse entry to customers who won’t lower their face masks.
“We are putting out a clear call to all of our shops, do not allow people to enter the store without taking off their face mask,” Adams said. “And then once they’re inside, they can continue to wear it if they so desire to do so.”
The city’s former governor, Andrew Cuomo, issued an executive order in April 2020 mandating New Yorkers to wear face coverings throughout the city.
People who refused to wear masks could be fined up to $1,000.