BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Several dozen protesters gathered in Niagara Square and marched down Franklin Street to the Rath Building on Monday morning, protesting mandates related to COVID-19 response.
The protest is part of "Black Out Monday," co-organized by several local and state activist groups. They have events planned each day this week, calling it "Civil Disobedience Week."
As part of Black Out Monday, the groups suggested parents withdraw their children from school to participate in the protest. Health care workers and business owners were also encouraged to attend.
It's not the only event this week in which the group is calling for kids to leave the classroom. On Thursday, they're encouraging students to walk out at 9 a.m. to protest mask mandates.
Erie County remains under a mask mandate for all public indoor spaces, with the exception of those that require proof of vaccination for entry. The mandate was issued last month as COVID-19 cases continued to rise. It is phase one of a four-phase approach to mitigating spread. The county will reassess on December 13, and could choose to enter the second phase: a vaccine requirement to enter some public spaces such as bars and restaurants.
Nearby, Wyoming County and Monroe County have entered back into states of emergency as COVID-19 cases rise, however, they have taken different approaches. Neither has implemented a mask mandate. Monroe County Executive Adam J. Bello's emergency declaration included a mask mandate only for county-operated facilities and focuses on expanding rapid testing in three areas: Rochester, Greece and Pittsford.
CDC guidance currently calls for all adults and children older than two years old to wear a mask in indoor public places if:
- they are not fully vaccinated
- they are fully vaccinated but in an area with substantial or high transmission
- they are fully vaccinated but have a weakened immune system
The CDC says people generally do not need to wear a mask outdoors, but should consider doing so in areas with high numbers of COVID-19 cases if they are in a crowded outdoor setting or may be inn close contact with unvaccinated people. Case studies have found wearing masks to be effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19.