“We are in the yellow zone — it’s a warning,” declared Mark Poloncarz, Erie County Executive.
Poloncarz spoke at length about the ‘yellow zone’ declared by Governor Andrew Cuomo Monday.
Poloncarz explained how it will be implemented for businesses.
“This should be a warning to our public, to our business owners, to the rest of the people out there,” stated Poloncarz.
The county executive said the yellow zone is actually a "reprieve" for the area to work toward getting COVID numbers lower.
Poloncarz warned that if it gets worse he would expect the county to head into a ‘red zone’, “which is basically a shutdown of everything again.”
"We agreed this is not a microcluster. This is a macro. This is large scale," described Poloncarz.
But Polonarz insists the new restrictions are not an attempt to shut everything down, saying bars and restaurants can still be open.
“We have an opportunity as a community to get out of it without having to shut down businesses — none of us what to shut down businesses — I certainty don’t,” Poloncarz explained.
The ‘yellow zone’ restriction will mean restaurants will only be allowed four people per table and bars will have to close down at midnight.
“There's not a single bar person in Buffalo and restaurant person that I’ve heard has anything good to say about this,” remarked Tim Walton, manger, Venue.
Venue is located on West Chippewa in downtown Buffalo.
Walton said the county executive continues to point to community spread as the reason, but bars are taking a hit.
“Poloncarz came out specifically and said it's not from bars — it’s from house parties — it's from big gatherings at home, so why are you coming at the bars,” Walton questioned.
Poloncarz told reporters Monday there is no one particular outbreak that is driving the change to a yellow zone.
"It is just general community spread," said Poloncarz.
The county executive said there have been confirmed cases from people attending adult Halloween parties and other house parties as well as two people who traveled to Pennsylvania for a recent Trump rally.
But Poloncarz repeatedly stated they have no interest in shutting down business. However, the governor says it will up to local governments to enforce the yellow zone restrictions.
“Building inspectors and police department, if they see a bar that's open at 1'o'clock — 1'o’clock in morning — that they have to shut it down,” Poloncarz explained.
As for how long these restrictions could be in place, the state says it is constantly evaluating the latest data. The county executive says it will be revisited on a “weekly basis”.