Are Erie County businesses preparing for another mask mandate?

COVID-19 mask generic
Posted at 11:27 PM, Jul 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-28 23:27:35-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz has brought up the possibility of another mask mandate in the county.

Wednesday, during the Erie County Industrial Development Agency Board meeting, Poloncarz said there could be a mask mandate by the end of the week.

"Based on the current rates in our county and our growth, we will have an indoor mask requirement again, possibly by the end of this week," Poloncarz said, "I do expect by the end of this week as part of the recent CDC recommendation that all inside public meetings, bowling alleys, movie theaters, bars, restaurants will have to go back to wearing masks as before."

But shortly after, Poloncarz issued a statement clarifying his statements on the possibility of an indoor mask requirement in the county. He said in the wake of new CDC guidance, if the county enters the CDC’s category of "substantial risk of community transmission" of COVID-19 face coverings would be required for employees and visitors inside county buildings and facilities regardless of vaccination status.

But his statements in the ECIDA meeting have business owners toying with the idea of another county wide mask requirement.

"I feel like whatever happens we're going to go with it the best way we can," Genevieve Brown, a stylist at Jennifer Julia Salon in Buffalo, said.

"If they were to bring back the mask mandate, we would totally abide by it. The safety of our customers does come first. Our staff has no problem wearing masks. Even though 95% are vaccinated, we have to abide by the rules," Michael Rottger, the owner of The Bayou in Cheektowaga, said.

Some business said the inconsistency of county leaders is frustrating.

"One week it's this rule. The next week it's that rule. Now we're going to change it. We're back to this. Adjust. Adjust. I mean just the yo-yo of leadership is infuriating. Absolutely infuriating," Amy Bueme, the owner of Catalyst Fitness, said.

"They need to make up their minds. They need to let us know what's going on. Show us the proof. Show us the science. We'll follow it," Rottger said.

Preparing for a mask mandate is simple for some.

"We just send out a quick text mostly for everybody just to let them know it's going to be required again. That's pretty much about it. We keep extra masks here in case people forget them at home," Brown said.

But it's much more complicated for others.

"We have to order more masks. We have to buy more masks... We're going to have to make signs, please wear a mask. It becomes a pain," Rottger said.

"I don't know. I don't even know if my members would come back honestly. They'd be so furious. I don't know what I would do honestly," Bueme said.