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Erie County republicans draft legislation requiring written report for COVID-19 related business closures

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Posted at 5:22 PM, Aug 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-04 18:27:58-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — COVID-19 has given restaurant owners a lot of food for thought. Glen Park Tavern Co-Owner Ellie Grenauer included.

“We’re all really trying because we want to stay open,” she said.

The Williamsville staple has significantly reduced the number of patrons allowed in the restaurant at one time, and masks are must. Those are just a few examples of how the business has changed in the midst of the pandemic.

Still, Grenauer said she worries she could get shutdown.

“Even though we’re doing everything right, you still don’t know what they’re going to catch,” Grenauer explained.

The “Business Closure Reporting Act” aims to change that, according to Erie County Legislator Joe Lorigo and his republican colleagues. The legislation would require any Erie County employee responsible for closing a business to explain why in a detailed written report within 48 hours of their decision. Currently, a justification isn’t required in writing.

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“We’re not saying that some of these businesses shouldn’t have been closed. What we’re saying is there needs to be more accountability and transparency when businesses are closed,” said Lorigo.

“Nobody has the restaurants backs, and this is the opportunity for us to have their backs,” added Legislator Ed Rath.

Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gail Burstein wasn’t available for comment on the proposal.

A Public Hearing would be required for the legislation to move forward. Only Erie Co. Legislative Chair April Baskin can call for one. Lorigo said he plans to push for one as soon as possible.