Governor Kathy Hocul said rising COVID-19 rates could potentially lead to some restrictions in Western New York. Hochul said she's exploring the option of requiring proof of the COVID-19 vaccine to enter a restaurant or entertainment venue.
The requirement would be similar to the what is currently in place in New York City, where individuals must show proof of the COVID-19 vaccine to get into a restaurant or see a Broadway Show.
Some businesses in Western New York already have policies similar to this in place.
"You must show proof of vaccination or a negative test within 48 hours of the show," Artie Kwitchoff, co-owner of Town Ballroom, said, "It's been positive, but it's also been a challenge."
Misuta Chow's has a similar policy: show proof of the COVID-19 vaccine or mask up.
"If they don't have any evidence of that, we require the CDC rules that they have to be masked physically when they are in the building unless they are sitting at the tables," Anthony Kelly, bar manager of Misuta Chow's, said.
However, Kwitchoff said he thinks if this is going to become a state requirement, there should be options for those who aren't vaccinated.
"But for those people who are hesitant, I think there should be the opportunity that if they can show the negative test that they should be allowed to attend an event or go to a restaurant," Kwitchoff said.
Michael Rottger, the owner of The Bayou, said he's afraid a proof of vaccine requirement may cost him business.
"We can't afford as small private business owners to lose out on business because someone's not vaccinated. I refuse to. I won't do it. It's none of my business. If Kathy Hochul wants to go with that, she can pay me for the difference of money that I'm going to lose," Rottger said.
Kelly said the proof of vaccine requirement has made Misuta Chow's patrons and workers feel safer.
Kwitchoff said he believes checking for proof of vaccine right at their doors may be how Western New York can lower it's COVID-19 rate.
"Listen, I want to see anything that's going to lower our positivity rate which is out of hand right now," Kwtichoff said.
Although, Kwitchoff said Town Ballroom has had problems with angry people because they are not allowed into the venue without proof of the vaccine or a negative COVID test.
"It's miserable," Kwitchoff said.
But Misuta Chow's has not had the same experience.
"Most people are really good about it. Most of our customers are excellent when they come in," Kelly said.
For Rottger, it's not about confrontation. It's about the chance he loses business.
"If my business isn't making money, I can't take care of my family. My employees can't take care of their families. How am I supposed to pay someone if there's no money coming in?" Rottger said.