''If we don't this now, this will be The Normal for a long time,'' Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente said Monday during his daily COVID-19 briefing.

Picente's comments come after he visited businesses over the weekend and saw some patrons not wearing masks, even inside businesses that had posted signs that said customers 'must' be wearing a face mask in order to ente,he said.

''This is what we need to do...378 have been infected, 15 have died. Just wear a mask. This is what everyone needs to do,'' he said.

Picente said he couldn't force individuals to protect themselves, but called on the public as a whole to comply with mask wearing, saying the lives of children and the elderly are at risk.

Further he is calling on the county's Public Health Director, Phyllis Ellis, to issue an executive order that would require businesses to strictly abide by Governor Cuomo's executive order that says everyone should wear a mask in public. He said businesses should ask patrons not wearing a mask to leave. If they don't, law enforcement should called, he said.

Businesses would face repercussions or found to be in violation if they allow customers to enter without a mask he said. It was unclear exactly what the punishment would be, but said it could involve a misdemeanor charge along with a fine.

Picente indicated such an order would be issued in' 24 to 48 hours.'

''NOT a Green Light''

Earlier in the day, Governor Cuomo indicated certain regions around the state could start the re-opening process after May 15. Picente said without mask compliance and futher spread of the virus, that date may not be a reality for Oneida County.

He also warned that when things begin to 'gradually' re-open, it's not going to be a shotgun start.

''[When we do re-open] it's not a green-light to go back to the way it was two months ago. That's not going to happen, not for a while,'' Picente said.


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