Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said the city is pushing back as hard as it can against the COVID-19 virus, pushing to keep Albany from coming in and tightening the regulatory screws even more than it did Monday, when most of Erie County went into the yellow zone.
The state's new zone strategy to deal with microclusters of COVID-19 cases put new restrictions on many local restaurants, limiting them to 25% of capacity and no more than four people at a table.
Brown said the alternative to not getting the virus under control is more shutdowns.
"If we don't get our act together and get COVID under control in Western New York in the next week or two, we could see a situation where the state comes in and shuts our businesses and our economy down again," the mayor said. "We don't want to see that."
He said the city is pushing back so hard police officers are issuing masks to people who are on the street without masks, and going into bars and restaurants where there is non-compliance.
"When we see people on the street not wearing masks, our police officers are giving them masks and asking them to put them on," Brown said. "When the county is saying we need your assistance in shutting some place down, our police then join the county sanitarians and help to effect a closure, but we don't want to do that."
There have been reports of harassment of those sanitarians when they are responding to snitch line calls of rule violations in bars and restaurants.
Brown also had a warning about the upcoming holidays. He said things have to change or the situation will become worse.
"All of those celebrations that are so important to us, that are so important to our community, so important to our people, they can't happen the traditional way. People cannot go out like they are used to going out," Brown said. "The night before Thanksgiving, we know that college students are going to be coming home. Some college students are coming home on quarantine."