This afternoon, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz announced he will mandate the wearing of face coverings in all indoor public places, including private businesses. This includes bars, restaurants, stores, theaters, barbershops, salons, gyms, entertainment and sport venues, hotels, banks, and all other places open to the public.
This mandate takes effect tomorrow (Tuesday, November 23) at 6:00 am. The mandate applies in all municipalities within Erie County, and to all individuals regardless of vaccination status. Businesses not complying with the mandate can face penalties as they had earlier in the pandemic, Poloncarz said.
Poloncarz cited rising numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations for the decision. He indicated this policy may be relaxed if COVID case and hospitalization numbers improve.
Poloncarz called the mask mandate the first of a four-phase approach. The second phase would be a vaccine mandate for all indoor spaces; the third would be capacity restrictions; and the fourth would be shutdowns. Poloncarz said he does not want to advance to these additional phases, but will do so if the COVID-19 situation does not improve. He will assess the county’s progress on December 13 and evaluate whether to move to a more restrictive phase.
The County Executive’s full announcement is available here.
BNP leadership has been in ongoing discussions with the County Executive and remains hopeful that increased caution will prevent future mandates that would hinder our regional economy.
The BNP will continue to advocate for actions that keep our economy open and working.