BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Parts of Erie County are now considered an “orange zone,” while part of Niagara County is moving to a “yellow zone.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the movement into stricter restrictions on Wednesday afternoon.
Cluster zone designations are given to parts of the state where the infection rate has stayed too high for too long, and as of Tuesday afternoon, there wasn’t a single part of Erie County where the infection rate wasn’t below three percent.
Western New York’s seven-day rolling average positivity rate is 5.1 percent. Based on the latest math, parts of Erie County now qualify for higher restrictions. Other parts of the county, as well as North Tonawanda and part of Wheatfield in Niagara County, are now yellow zones.
|Orange Zone||Yellow Zone|
|Tonawanda (City and Town)||Alden|
|West Seneca||North Collins|
MORE | This chart shows how a region gets designated as a zone.
In a yellow zone designation, there are restrictions on gatherings, as well as specific times certain facilities, like bars and restaurants, have to close.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, like Gov. Cuomo, believes bars and restaurants that didn’t follow the state’s rules ended up contributing to the rise in cases.
Watch Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz’s entire presser here:
Here are the parts of Erie County with the highest infection rates, as of Wednesday:
Now that parts of the county are orange zones, the restrictions are even tighter. In orange zones, residential and non-residential gatherings cannot have more than 10 people.
At restaurants and bars, people can’t eat indoors. Only outdoor dining, takeout and delivery are allowed. Like yellow zones, there is a limit of four people per table.
High-risk, non-essential businesses, like gyms, hair salons and personal care services will close starting Friday.
Malls and retail can stay open, but must watch their capacity- the capacity must be 50 percent or lower.
Schools in orange zones cannot continue to offer in-person learning. Instead, lessons must be fully remote starting Monday.
Houses of worship may still operate in-person services, but with fewer people. According to the state, the facility’s capacity must be the lesser of these two options — 33 percent of the maximum capacity, or a maximum of 25 people.
During his conference Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Cuomo said that he expects infection rates in the state to get worse after Thanksgiving.
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul gave the following statement Wednesday afternoon:
– Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul
Following today’s announcement by Governor Cuomo, and after convening this evening’s Western New York control room call, it is clear that Western New York has reached frightening levels of positive COVID-19 cases and if we do not change what we are doing right now, this deadly virus will continue to spread throughout the region and lead to further shutdowns.
Today should be a call to action for all Western New Yorkers. We all want our local businesses and schools to reopen as soon as possible. We can make that happen if we work together and follow the guidance: Wear a mask, limit gatherings to immediate family and no more than ten people, and socially distance.
As head of Western New York’s control room, I will continue to work closely with Governor Cuomo and Administration officials, and coordinate on a daily basis with county and local officials and public health experts to stop the spread and save lives.
MORE | Find COVID-19 hot spot zones by address here.