Chautauqua County won't enforce statewide mask mandate, encourages residents to use safety protocols

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Posted at 11:40 PM, Dec 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-13 23:40:36-05

FREDONIA, N.Y. (WKBW) — New York's statewide mask mandate is now in effect.

“I was a little discouraged when I first heard it,” Owner of Rhythm and Grooves Record Store in Fredonia Derek Jusko said. “Thinking here we go again.”

“This is all about two things,” Governor Kathy Hochul said. “Protecting the health of New Yorkers and the health of the economy.”

Governor Hochul said it will be up to counties to enforce the mandate. Chautauqua County is among at least three in Western New York that said they will not enforce masks.

“We are not going to penalize people financially,” Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel said. “They’re having a hard enough time.”

Even though some areas like Chautauqua County said they won’t enforce the mask mandate, some small businesses are taking it upon themselves to do so.

“I think you’re much more likely to gain customers out of wearing a mask than if you’re not going to do the mandate,” Jusko said. “It’s a minor sacrifice.”

New York State's 7-day test average is currently 4.6%, more than one percent higher than a month ago (3.1%) and about where it was at this time last year (5.0%).

“If people had gotten vaccinated, and we were still at 1%, we would not be having this conversation,” Governor Hochul said.

Governor Hochul said she will reevaluate the decision by January 15th or sooner if case rates improve.

“I’m looking to be flexible and say okay, thank you New Yorkers, you did what we asked you,” Governor Hochul said.

“Since I heard there’s an end date involved, it was kind of a sigh of relief,” Jusko said.

And Wendel said they still encourage the community to take safety measures.

“Do I encourage masking and vaccinations? Yeah, we do,” Wendel said. “We are not going to change that.”

“If we can avoid another mass shutdown, I would happily wear a mask for the next few weeks,” Jusko said. “That doesn’t bother me.”