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Cuomo reacts to Poloncarz vaccine mandate for Bills & Sabres fans

"You don't know the facts"
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Posted at 5:43 PM, Apr 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-16 18:20:09-04

“I think his recommendation is plausible,” remarked Governor Andrew Cuomo.

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Governor Andrew Cuomo appeared in Buffalo Friday.

Governor Cuomo, while appearing in Buffalo Friday, faced tough questions about Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz's vaccine mandate for all Buffalo Bills and Sabres fans to attend games at HighMark Stadium and KeyBank Center this fall.

Poloncarz made his announcement earlier this week.

Cuomo appeared at the Northland Training Center in Buffalo Friday morning to make an announcement on a broadband program for low-income citizens. No news media was allowed inside, but reporters were monitoring on-line.

7 Eyewitness News Anchor Ed Drantch asked the governor about Poloncarz's decision.

“Where do you stand at this point about getting Buffalo Bills fans back into Highmark Stadium?,” Drantch questioned.

“I’m not going to try to guess what's going to happen months from now and what's the best policy — months from now —we'll find out the facts at that time and we'll make a determination on the facts,” replied Cuomo.

Cuomo says the state, not the county, has to approve the regulation, but he did did want to discuss it as a legal question at this time.

“It’s not a legal question — legally whether it’s county property or city property or private property — it doesn’t matter the state has to approve the regulation, but that’s neither here nor there — the question is what should the intelligent regulation be when the season reopens,” Cuomo responded.

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Governor Cuomo leaving the Northland Training Center Friday showing off his mask to reporters.

Cuomo says it is too soon to make a decision for the fall.

“My position — premature to try to do determine what is a smart policy in a few months because you don't know the facts,” Cuomo stated.

The county executive says announcing the requirement for fans and staff now gives everyone enough time to get vaccinated.

A spokesperson for Poloncarz says he is not making any new comments to respond to the governor and stands by a statement issued this week.

That stated in part "it is very early to make any decision”, but noted that both the stadium in Orchard Park and downtown's KeyBank Center are county facilities and “the county does have the power to determine what happens”.

“I think the county executive is on the right track and I can't wait to be in a packed bills stadium again,” said Sean Ryan, state senator.

Poloncarz has support from democratic Senator Ryan.

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Sean Ryan, state senator.

“We want the 12th man there — we want the 12th man roaring — we can only get it done if everyone is vaccinated,” Ryan remarked.

But across the political aisle, republican state Senator George Borrello disagrees.

“The governor had the most restrictive rules when it came to the playoff games for the Buffalo Bills, stricter than any other NFL City,” Borrello said.

“Do you think that they should be vaccinated to enter a stadium?” Buckley asked.

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State Senator George Borrello in a Zoom interview.

“I would say in general making a requirement for a vaccine, especially a state mandated requirement, where you are not going to make exceptions for people who have perhaps tested negative or already recovered from Covid or people that have medical issues that prevent them from getting the vaccine, then that is a blanket restriction that I think is far too restrictive,” Borrello answered.

Borrello says he’s “not an expert” and can’t make a determination.

“People are going to do what they are comfortable doing and if they feel comfortable and that you taking necessary measures to keep them safe, then they’re going to feel comfortable in attendance,” Borrello noted.