Police issuing warnings — but not fines — on first day of MTA mask crackdown

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s crackdown on maskless straphangers began Monday — but scofflaws at some of the city’s busiest stations were given a pass instead of a $50 fine.

Over the course of an hour Monday morning, a Post reporter witnessed 20 commuters without face coverings pass through turnstiles at Grand Central Terminal — and breeze right past NYPD officers who were handing out warnings instead of the summonses Cuomo warned of last week.

“The governor’s rule goes into effect today,” one officer acknowledged at a station entrance inside the busy transit hub. “The way it works is, if somebody doesn’t have a mask, you tell them, ‘Oh, you need a mask,’ or you can grab one at the booth. If they refuse to wear a mask, you give them a warning.”

Two MTA police officers also said they hadn’t issued any fines so far.

The edict was the same a few stops away at the Union Square station.

“No. We’re providing you with a mask if you need it, but we’re not enforcing nothing like that,” said another NYPD officer when asked if he was doling out any fines. “No, not us. We have masks, we give you one.”

NYPD and MTA officers now have the authority to slap riders on subway, bus, Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North lines with $50 summonses for refusing to wear a face covering, with Cuomo saying only “a handful of people” haven’t been compliant with the coronavirus safety measure.

On Thursday, MTA Chairman Pat Foye said the new rule was all about respecting fellow straphangers.

“It is reassuring to other passengers who play by the rules that mask wearing is mandatory,” he said. “It’s a matter of respect for co-commuters and employees.”

Ninety-three percent of MTA riders are wearing masks on their trips — though 15 percent of those people aren’t doing so properly, instead tucking it under their nose or chin, the agency said.

The fines are reserved for those who don’t wear a mask at all — though NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said the summonses are more of a last resort.

“We’re not looking to … give summonses and further hurt people that are already hurt in New York City, but we want compliance,” Shea said Monday morning during an appearance on NY1. “And that’s the message.”

He said issuing the monetary penalty is just “one of the tools in our tool belt.”

“But we’re not looking to go right to that summons,” Shea added. “It’s the last thing we want to do.”

Asked about the NYPD cops often seen sans masks around the city, Shea insisted police weren’t refusing to don face coverings.

“Regarding the officers wearing masks — so we’ve lost 46 members of the NYPD since this pandemic has started. Eight uniformed members, 32 civilian members and eight auxiliary members — all New Yorkers,” he said on NY1.

“And it is not something that we take lightly, it’s something that we stress all the time, I would not agree with one of the statements that you made about them refusing to wear masks. Can you get a picture of an officer that takes his mask off? Of course you can like you can, like with any New Yorker. Officers are out there wearing masks. Any time you come across one that is not, we’re advising them to and making sure they have the equipment that they wear, but to categorize it that they’re out there not wearing masks I don’t think is fair.”

Additional reporting by Amanda Woods and David Meyer

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