ITHACA, N.Y. — Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Thursday he is extending his ‘NYS on PAUSE’ protocol through May 15, as well as mandating masks for all New Yorkers while they are in public and not able to practice social distancing.

The PAUSE extension effectively keeps businesses and schools closed for the next month while the state continues its efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 and prevent the overload of the state’s medical systems.

“We have to continue doing what we are doing, I’d like to see that infection rate get down even more,” said Cuomo. “The closedown policies will be extended in coordination with other states to May 15. I don’t want to project beyond that period…one month is a long time.”

The governor also spoke on another executive order, this one signed on Wednesday, March 15, requiring all New Yorkers to wear masks or face coverings when social distancing is not possible.

“Effective at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 17, 2020 any individual who is over age two 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,” reads the text of the executive order.

Cuomo said that he would be expanding that directive to include the use of public transit, private carriers and for-hire car services. As of Friday at 8 p.m., riders and operators must wear masks.

“As annoying as it seems, wearing a mask is one of the best things that we can do,” said Cuomo  “I am sorry it makes people unhappy. I do not consider it a major burden and it really is a simple measure that can save lives.”