Grand Island business owner taking conservative approach as restrictions ease

Grand Island

GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. (WIVB) – The New York State business community is waiting for Governor Andrew Cuomo to announce whether the state will adopt new CDC guidance, which says fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to socially distance or wear masks in most instances, unless required by law. Regardless of whether the governor complies, businesses are in for some major changes in the coming days.

Starting next Wednesday, most capacity restrictions will be lifted. Businesses will still have to comply with social distancing requirements, however. That means some of them will have to keep their capacity below 100%.

The Grand Throw House, an axe throwing venue in Grand Island, falls into that category.

“If we were to maintain the six-foot social distancing with the maximum amount of people, where we’re able to do both those things, I think we’re at 75%,” said owner Stephanie Foster.

While many business owners are prepared to jump at the opportunity to increase capacity as much as possible, Foster is not.

“Right now, I feel way more comfortable staying at 50%,” she said.

“I want (customers) to feel comfortable where they are,” Foster added. “I don’t want them to feel, ‘Oh my God. This person is coming too close to me,’ or, ‘I’m too close to this group of people.'”

It’s a conservative approach that Foster believes she can maintain for another six months, before hopefully being able to switch to 100% capacity.

“We can’t hold out much longer because it’s personal investments at this point,” she said.

Eric Fiebelkorn, the president of the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce, says there has been a lot of discussion among business owners in the 24 hours since the CDC announced its change in guidance.

“One of the things we’re telling our membership is as always, we’re contacting our state representatives at the local level, the governor’s office, and other chambers in our network who are all kind of trying to work together through this to share information,” Fiebelkorn said.

Colleges are also waiting for more information. At the University at Buffalo, officials are in touch with the New York State Department of Health and SUNY administration in Albany to figure out how the new CDC guidance will be implemented for the campus community, officials said in a statement.

In the statement, officials clarified that the latest CDC guidance does not change the university’s plans for this weekend’s commencement ceremonies, where masks will be required.

“Until it receives further clarification, the university will continue to follow current face covering guidelines,” university officials wrote in the statement.

Chris Horvatits is an award-winning anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2017. See more of his work here.

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