Seneca County’s official COVID task force said it is going to continue strict enforcement of the state’s guidelines around the coronavirus as fall and winter approach.
Following recent increases in coronavirus cases across the region and New York, state officials have issued additional guidance to local municipalities—including counties—charging them with enforcement of public health regulations, as well as executive orders related to virus response.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has shifted the state’s focus on identifying and containing new cases based on hotspots or micro-clusters. This approach has led to increased restrictions and school closures for areas impacted by it.
While no restrictions have come down on Seneca County, local officials are preparing and warning residents that everyone must stay the course to get past COVID-19.?
“We are seeing outbreaks in adjacent communities that should heighten our awareness for following the necessary protocols,” Tom Murray said. He serves as Chairman of the County’s COVID Response Committee, sits in a leadership post for the Seneca County Chamber of Commerce, and is a local business owner himself. “The last thing we need is to go backwards or experience another shutdown.”
Last week Tiki Bar North had its liquor license suspended after apparent violations in the month of September. While known cases were not directly connected to non-compliance at that particular business, some in the community are worried that relaxing of adherence to social distancing or mask-wearing is leading to more cases.
The State Liquor Authority said in a release late last week that the investigation began on Sept. 26 after complaints of social distancing violations were reported.?
An SLA investigator made an unannounced visit to the site finding approximately 60 patrons gathered at the bar and outdoor areas. In addition, the investigator observed a dozen patrons standing at the bar consuming alcohol—without having ordered food. At least seven patrons were also observed walking up to the bar to order drinks.
The investigator then purchased a drink without food from the bartender without a facial covering, and even observed the owner behind the bar without a facial covering himself.
On Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo blamed an increase in cases in the state on increases across the entire country where restrictions are not in place.
“Our priority is to keep Seneca County a safe place to live, work, and visit,” Public Health Director Vickie Swinehart said. “We will continue to hold residents and businesses accountable to this goal through strict enforcement of face coverings and limiting public gathering sizes. In addition, businesses must continue to proactively monitor their capacity limitations and implement necessary mitigation efforts.”
Earlier this year, the Seneca County Board of Supervisors passed a COVID Response program to assist businesses that struggled to meet compliance standards.
“We understand the challenges that our business community has faced in trying to keep up with the state’s evolving COVID rules,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Bob Hayssen added. “This effort sends a clear message that Seneca County is committed to providing a business friendly environment while doing our part to help contain the spread of COVID-19 in New York State.”
Seneca County has not announced any fines for businesses not complying with the state’s orders.