Business group wants to overturn county mask mandate – Buffalo News

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A local law firm that has become known for opposing efforts to impose pandemic-related restrictions on businesses has come down against the mask mandate County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz imposed this week.
The HoganWillig law firm Wednesday announced that it is pursuing legal action on behalf of the Western New York Small Business Coalition. Bo Sunshine, director of marketing for the law firm, said the coalition has more than 100 members.
The same firm won injunctions early this year against indoor dining bans and against state-imposed early closing times for restaurants.
The law firm’s news release noted that Poloncarz’s written orders exempt from the mask requirement any business that requires all customers to provide proof of vaccination.
“This begs the question: If it is true that fully vaccinated individuals can still be contagious and spread the virus to others, why is there an exemption for businesses that impose a vaccination requirement?” the firm’s announcement said.
HoganWillig cited year-old state data that only 1.43% of Covid-19 transmission occurs in restaurants. Sunshine said the firm has requested updated data under the Freedom of Information Law from both the state and county health departments, without response.
“Our FOIL requests have been going on for over a year,” Sunshine said. “They’re on their sixth attempt to try to delay.”
Spokesmen for Poloncarz and the health department have not yet responded to requests for comment.
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I have covered Niagara County for The Buffalo News since 1995, when I joined the paper after 10 years as news director at WLVL in Lockport.
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Some bars are requiring proof of vaccination as the mask rule went into effect ahead of Thanksgiving Eve, traditionally one of the busiest nights for bars in Buffalo.

The indoor masking requirement is considered Phase 1 of a four-phase restrictions and shutdown plan if Covid cases and hospitalizations continue to rise.

Mandatory mask-wearing is back in Erie County’s restaurants, gyms and other public places, and the county executive is considering much more restrictive measures if Covid-19 hospitalizations increase.
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