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Erie Co. leaders stress social distancing: people urged to cancel events of 250 people or more

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Posted at 3:29 PM, Mar 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-12 23:42:29-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Erie County leaders are stressing the importance of social distancing amid growing concerns over the coronavirus.

During a news conference on Thursday, leaders encouraged the community to cancel events with 250 people or more. It's also being recommended that people not attend events with more than 50 people. Those over the age of 60 are strongly urged to avoid such events.

These recommendations came on the heels of new restrictions introduced Thursday by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The governor has placed a ban on gatherings of 500 people or more in the state to help slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

From the Sabres to Shea's, Buffalo's biffest affairs are suspended. Restaurants in the theater district are already feeling the effects. Bijou Grille, is across the street from Shea's and is a common pre-show dinner spot.

"We lose three shows, you're talking close to $20-25,000 dollars," said owner Beatrice Militello.

Militello has owned Bijou Grille for nearly 30 years, and said this is only the second time Shea's has canceled a show, the other was for a blizzard.

"I'm nervous for my staff because they don't make any money when we don't make any money ," she said. "People need to pay the bills and that's the problem with this type of thing."

Around the corner on Chippewa Street, bars prepare for a weekend without sports, and without a St. Patrick's Day Parade.

"Everyone still has a rent, they still have their car payments, and it goes just beyond the bar owners you know making money behind the bar it's their tips, their wages, everything," said Tim Walton, the Assistant Manager of Venue and Bottoms Up.

The ice inside Key Bank Center may be empty until further notice, but bars and restaurants stress they are still open for business.

Here's a list of immediate events being impacted in Western New York:

  • Both St. Patrick's Day Parades
  • Home Show: Buffalo Convention Center
  • NYS USA Hockey Championship: Amherst
  • Niagara Cup at 2020 at Canisius College
  • Star Swimming at SUNY Erie
  • YMCA at SUNY Erie

At this time there are no positive cases in Erie County.