Parts of Erie County become Orange Zone, Yellow Zone expanded to part of Niagara County

Posted at 2:04 PM, Nov 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-18 19:47:45-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday further COVID-19 restrictions are coming for some areas of Erie County as well as part of Niagara County.

As part of New York State's "Cluster Action Initiative" parts of Erie County were designated as a Yellow Zone micro-cluster on November 9 in response to a rising number of COVID-19 cases. The designation as a Yellow Zone micro-cluster placed temporary restrictions on businesses and social activities in an attempt to control the spread of COVID-19.

Although parts of the county were designated as a Yellow Zone, the COVID-19 positivity rate in that zone has remained high with a 7-day rolling average of 7.33% as of Tuesday.

Due to the increased positivity rate, officials announced further restrictions will be coming to parts of Erie County as well as a portion of Niagara County.

Parts of Erie County previously designated as a Yellow Zone have become an Orange Zone micro-cluster. Other parts of Erie County have been designated as a Yellow Zone that previously were not designated as a micro-cluster at all. In Niagara County North Tonawanda has been designated a Yellow Zone.

The restrictions will go into place for businesses Friday and will go into place for schools Monday.

The Orange Zone includes: the cities of Buffalo, Lackawanna, Tonawanda, and the towns of Amherst, Aurora, Cheektowaga, Clarence, Eden, Elma, Grand Island, Hamburg, Lancaster, Orchard Park, Tonawanda, West Seneca.

The Yellow Zone includes: the rest of Erie County which includes Alden, Boston, Brant, Colden, Collins, Concord, Holland, Marilla, Newstead, North Collins, Sardinia, and Wales.

Below are the restrictions for Yellow, Orange and Red Zone micro-clusters according to the governor's office.

Yellow Zone:

  • Houses of worship operate at 50% capacity.
  • Mass gatherings limited to 25 people indoors and outdoors.
  • Businesses remain open.
  • Restaurants can offer indoor and outdoor dining but must only have four people per table.
  • Schools remain open but must have weekly COVID-19 testing for students/teachers/staff for in-person settings.

Orange Zone:

  • Houses of worship operate at 33% capacity or 25 people maximum.
  • Mass gatherings limited to 10 people indoors and outdoors.
  • High-risk nonessential businesses close (gyms, personal care, etc.)
  • Restaurants can only offer outdoor dining and takeout, four person maximum per table for outdoor dining.
  • Schools are closed and shift to remote learning.

Red Zone:

  • Houses of worship operate at 25% capacity or 10 people maximum.
  • Mass gatherings are prohibited.
  • Only essential business can be open.
  • Restaurants can only offer takeout.
  • Schools are closed and shift to remote learning.

Cuomo said Wednesday that Western New York is the worst situation in the state.

Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul released the following statement Wednesday evening:

"Following today’s announcement by Governor Cuomo, and after convening this evening's Western New York control room call, it is clear that Western New York has reached frightening levels of positive COVID-19 cases and if we do not change what we are doing right now, this deadly virus will continue to spread throughout the region and lead to further shutdowns.

Today should be a call to action for all Western New Yorkers. We all want our local businesses and schools to reopen as soon as possible. We can make that happen if we work together and follow the guidance: Wear a mask, limit gatherings to immediate family and no more than ten people, and socially distance.

As head of Western New York’s control room, I will continue to work closely with Governor Cuomo and Administration officials, and coordinate on a daily basis with county and local officials and public health experts to stop the spread and save lives."