Mask requirement is first phase of potential measures designed to reduce COVID-19 infections
ERIE COUNTY, NY – With COVID-19 cases and COVID-19-related hospitalizations increasing significantly in Erie County, County Executive Mark Poloncarz and Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein issued countywide orders requiring that any individual entering indoor public spaces in Erie County must wear a mask over their nose and mouth. This requirement applies to everyone, patrons and public-facing employees, who are age 2 or older and medically able to tolerate a mask. This requirement takes effect tomorrow, November 23, 2021 at 6 a.m.
“We consulted with business, community and health care leaders, especially with employees who are front-line workers, and they welcome this step,” said County Executive Mark Poloncarz. “This is the busiest time of year for many restaurants, stores and entertainment venues, and having this measure in place will provide another layer of protection against infection in those workplaces. Masks represent a united action to prevent additional restrictions on businesses and individuals. I thank Governor Hochul for her support for Erie County’s action, and also for her pledge of state resources and support to make vaccines and boosters even more widely available as the holiday season approaches.”
“We can’t wish or hope our way out of this alarming increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein. “Our community needs to take action, and this measure is one immediate, visible measure that everyone can take to protect themselves and those around them in public. Masks work!”
Locations covered under these orders include, but are not limited to, bars and restaurants (staff and patrons who are not seated); grocery and all other stores; theatres (movie and live); barber shops/beauty parlors; gyms and fitness centers; entertainment venues (e.g., hockey rinks, bowling alleys) for both players and spectators; places of worship, including during prayer; and hotels, banks, all other places open to the public. Masks are strongly recommended for all other non-public work settings if social distancing cannot be maintained.
Venues that have strict vaccine requirements for entrance, such as Highmark Stadium and KeyBank Center, would not have to require masks for vaccinated individuals under these orders
A mask requirement would be the first in a series of potential phases designed to reduce the risks of COVID-19 infection in Erie County. Depending on trends in new COVID-19 cases, case rates and COVID-19 hospitalizations, Erie County may institute additional phases of response, to include vaccine mandates for indoor dining, fitness and entertainment venues; or capacity restrictions in certain industries; and, in the event of a severe increase in hospitalization and deaths; shutdowns.
The Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) is planning additional COVID-19 vaccine clinics for restaurant employees and other front-line workers, along with a robust calendar of clinics for the general public and the 5-11-year-old age group, which recently became eligible for COVID-19 vaccine. Visit www.erie.gov/vax for a complete schedule, which is updated regularly. Pharmacies, pediatricians, the New York State Department of Health mass vaccination site at University at Buffalo South Campus, and a site at Galleria Mall (second floor near Macy’s, at KSL Diagnostics site) are all other options to get vaccinated. Erie County will also send a vaccinator to any Erie County resident at their home for a Vax Visit: call (716) 858-2929 to be scheduled.
Vaccinated residents over the age of 18 are strongly encouraged to receive booster vaccines due the prevalence of the highly transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19.
Erie County has provided a printable flyer for businesses and organizations to use at entrances.