WNY businesses have mixed reaction on enforcing the latest mask guidelines

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BUFFALO N.Y. (WIVB) – Local restaurants and grocery stores have mixed reactions on the new guidelines coming from the state saying fully vaccinated people no longer have to wear masks.

“I haven’t heard anything that’s going to really tell me how I’m supposed to handle it, who’s responsible, who’s accountable,” said Nick Pitillo, who owns Osteria 166. “You know, the honor system is probably not gonna get it done right? So, hey are you vaccinated? Yes, ok well you go right through.”

Pitillo says they were expecting the state to change its policy for wearing face coverings inside businesses after the CDC did. He says the change shows we’re nearing the end of the pandemic, but there’s still some unanswered questions. He hopes the guidelines will be more clear by Wednesday when the changes go into effect.

“Some people have a misperception that oh masks are off, everything’s back to normal the streets are going to be flooded with people and that’s not going to be the case in my opinion,” he said. “I think there’s still a lot of people who are scared, there’s still a lot of people who are not ready to come out. I understand that but we have to move on, we have to start moving forward. The infection rates are extremely low. The vaccines are working.”

At Dash’s Market, president Mark Mahoney says they’ll be relying on the honor system.

“We talked about no other good way to do it and we think a lot of customers will still want to wear a mask, people who have health issues, people who have not been vaccinated or people who are not at the comfort level of totally removing their mask in public,” he said. “So our take is we’re comfortable with whatever you’re comfortable with as a consumer.”

Then over at the Lexington Co-op, customers and staff will still be required to wear masks.

“Today Governor Cuomo announced that New York State will adopt the CDC’s relaxed restrictions on mask use for fully vaccinated people. At the Co-op, we will continue to require masks for all staff and customers until further notice.  As of today, just over 40% of Erie County residents are fully vaccinated.  As always, we will reevaluate this policy as the situation evolves.  The safety of our staff and customers continues to be our top priority.”

Tim Bartlett, GM at the Lexington Co-op

Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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