UTICA, N.Y. (WENY) – A federal judge ruled Tuesday New York State must allow religious exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for state health care workers.

Previously, Judge David Hurd issued a temporary restraining order after more than a dozen health care professionals filed a lawsuit, saying that their rights would be violated if the mandate did not permit exemptions on religious grounds.

This ruling means the state must allow religious exemptions for the vaccine mandate as the lawsuit proceeds.

Tuesday afternoon, Governor Kathy Hochul released a statement about the ruling:

"My responsibility as Governor is to protect the people of this state, and requiring health care workers to get vaccinated accomplishes that. I stand behind this mandate, and I will fight this decision in court to keep New Yorkers safe."