Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday afternoon that part of Niagara County will be moving into the yellow zone designation under New York state's COVID-19 response strategy.
In Niagara County, the communities covered under the new designation include the City of North Tonawanda and the Town of Wheatfield. Cuomo did not give a firm date for when the new designation will begin in Niagara County.
The move is in response to rising positivity rates in the area. The yellow zone designation imposes the following restrictions:
• houses of worship are limited to 50% capacity;
• indoor and outdoor mass gatherings are limited to no more than 25 people;
• restaurants can offer indoor and outdoor dining but there can be no more than four customers per table and
• schools can remain open for in-person learning, but districts must provide weekly testing to students, teachers and staff.
In a briefing on Wednesday, Cuomo also announced that several communities in neighboring Erie County that were under yellow zone designations have now moved to the higher and more restrictive orange zone category.
Orange zone areas are required to keep mass gatherings to 10 people minimum - indoors or outdoors. The orange zone designation limits capacity in houses of worship to no more than 33% capacity or a maximum of 25 people. High-risk, non-essential businesses, such as gyms and personal care outlets like salons, must also close. Dining at restaurants is limited to outdoors only, with four people maximum allowed per table.
Cuomo noted that the positivity rate in Western New York is now higher than any other area of the state, with the Erie County communities of the Town of Hamburg (9.78%) and the Town of Lancaster (9.42%) posting the highest positivity rates in the region.