ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. (WIVB) — Erie County will lift the mask mandate for all county-owned buildings on Monday, according to County Executive Mark Poloncarz.

The county also announced the vaccine mandate at KeyBank Center will be lifted.

New York State’s school and healthcare mask mandates remain in effect.

The decision comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released relaxed guidance on mask-wearing.

The CDC now assigns levels of COVID prevention guidance as “low, medium or high” based on hospital beds being used, hospital admissions and new COVID-19 cases. Erie County is at the medium level.

At this level the CDC recommends:

  • If you are at high risk for severe illness, talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need to wear a mask and take other precautions
  • Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines
  • Get tested if you have symptoms

The state lifted the indoor mask-or-vaccine mandate for indoor businesses and venues on Feb. 10.

County Executive Mark Poloncarz said that though the mandate will be lifted, the county is keeping a close watch on the spread of coronavirus in Erie County and will take action if need be.

“The CDC’s Community Level indicators show that Erie County is on the right track in the fight against the virus, and our own information about COVID-19 in the community corroborates what they are seeing. Cases and hospitalizations are decreasing, which is very encouraging,” said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.

“With this evidence in hand, the mask mandate in Erie County buildings will be lifted as of Monday, February 28. We are still closely monitoring the spread of the virus and will take other actions as necessary and when possible.”

Erie County Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein emphasized that those who are unvaccinated or immunocompromised should take mask-wearing into consideration.

“With this new way of evaluating COVID-19 risk, the CDC also outlines the community prevention strategies that our department will continue to focus our work,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein.

“Vaccine clinics, access to testing and support for school testing programs will play a role in further reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission and illness. Though there will be less public emphasis on masks and distancing, people who are most vulnerable to infection – because they are unvaccinated or immunocompromised by age, medical condition, medication or pregnancy – should carefully consider the benefits of wearing a mask and maintaining distance from others in crowded or close spaces. That applies to people who live with, work with or care for those most vulnerable as well.”

Patrick Ryan is an award-winning reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2020. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.