BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — On November 22, Erie County implemented a four-phase approach to curb COVID-19 spread, as hospitals in the county reached 90% capacity.
The first phase included a new mask mandate for all public indoor spaces in the county. However, some venues will not be subject to the mandate.
A key line in the county's public statement on the mandate means sites like Highmark Stadium and KeyBank Center are exempt:
Venues that have strict vaccine requirements for entrance, such as Highmark Stadium and KeyBank Center, would not have to require masks for vaccinated individuals under these orders.
Erie County announced an agreement with Pegula Sports and Entertainment, owner of the Bills and Sabres, back on September 14th to require proof of vaccination for the teams' home games. As a result of this agreement, the existing rules for masks in the stadium and arena remain in place. At KeyBank Center and Highmark Stadium, all guests 12 and over may attend without wearing a mask. However, unvaccinated fans under the age of 12 must wear a mask at all times.
While children ages 5 to 11 are now eligible to receive the vaccine, PSE and Erie County have not announced an update to the facilities' proof of vaccination policy since September. Due to dosage timelines for the Pfizer vaccine, the earliest someone in the 5 to 11 age group could be considered "fully vaccinated" is December 10.
The World's Largest Disco, happening Saturday night at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center, will also be able to operate without a mask mandate because of its vaccine requirement. It announced on September 26 that it would require proof of full vaccination for all attendees after working with Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz to come up with its plan. The disco sold out on November 15.
Smaller venues are now following suit. On Tuesday morning, Mister Goodbar in Buffalo's Elmwood Village announced that it would immediately begin requiring proof of vaccination to enter, but that patrons did not need to wear masks once inside. Jack Rabbit, also on Elmwood Avenue, announced its own proof of vaccination requirement a few hours later.
In addition to voluntarily implementing a proof of vaccination requirement, the county's executive order on the mask mandate includes other steps venues must follow:
. . . any business entity, business operator, or building owner, who voluntarily implements a 100% COVID-19 vaccination requirement for entry into their facility, business, or building, shall be exempt from the masking requirements contained herein. Such vaccination policy must be in writing and contain a plan for implementation which shall include notification to the public through adequate signage as well as the method by which proof of vaccination will be checked prior to entry."