Erie County Fair and county fairs across NY can reopen, local and state approval required in some cases

Erie County Fair cancelled this year due to pandemic
Posted at 12:19 PM, May 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-17 14:34:57-04

ALBANY, N.Y. (WKBW) — In an announcement from New York City on Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced all county fairs can reopen this summer with some restrictions.

Fairs can reopen at full capacity if they have a permit from their local health department and can ensure six feet of social distancing will be possible for attendees.

Fairs with attendance of more than 5,000 people need to also obtain New York State Department of Health approval in order to operate. Private and government-owned venues can set their own rules beyond the state guidance on mask-wearing and social distancing.

The state says its industry-specific guidance must be followed and CDC guidance for large events and gatherings should be "consulted, as appropriate" for applicable activities and attractions at fairs/festivals.

Officials say in addition to capacity limits, social distancing and any mask requirements, organizers should consider the following:

  • Attendee Contact Information: Fairs and festivals should encourage at least one attendee from each party to sign in during ticketing, or before or immediately upon entering the event space, providing their name, address and phone number for use in potential contact tracing efforts.
  • Health Screening: Fairs and festivals must implement health screening for all individuals including questions on any COVID-19 symptoms, close contacts, recent positive COVID-19 test result, and compliance with State's travel advisory. Screening may be performed via signage, at ticket purchase, by e-mail/website, by telephone, or by electronic survey before individuals enter the event space.
  • Hand Hygiene: Fairs and festivals must provide hand washing stations or hand sanitizing supplies for common areas and areas where hand washing facilities may not be available or practical.
  • Cleaning and Disinfection: Fairs and festivals must regularly clean and disinfect, focusing on high-traffic areas, such as restrooms, and frequently touched surfaces, such as service counters and seats.
  • Communication: Fairs and festivals must post signage informing attendees of health precautions (e.g., social distancing, masks, hand hygiene) and distance markers indicating six-foot spaces in areas where lines form or people congregate, unless all attendees are fully vaccinated.
  • Applicable Guidance: Fairs and festivals should consult the State's guidance for their specific activities and attractions, such as performing arts and entertainment, amusement and family entertainment, food and beverage service, retail and market service, agricultural activities and sports and recreation.

"Fairs and festivals are huge economic generators for communities across the state, and last year they were all put on hold due to the COVID pandemic," Governor Cuomo said. "As more New Yorkers get vaccinated and we continue to keep the positivity and hospitalization rates down, we are readjusting our reopening strategy and allowing more events and attractions to resume. This new guidance will allow our county fairs and local festivals to open at the greatest capacity possible so they can remain economically viable, while still ensuring public health and safety."

Last week, the Erie County Fair announced it saw a path to full capacity at this year's fair. The fair typically sees more than 100,000 attendees per day, so it would need approval from the state health department to operate.