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'We're going to shut you down,' Poloncarz says, as 1/3 of gyms haven't followed reopening rules

Erie County
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz in a recent coronvirus briefing.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says hundreds of gyms, fitness centers and other operations are in danger of being shut down because they didn't follow the rules related to COVID-19.

The county executive told his briefing Wednesday that his staff did a Google search and found around 600 such facilities in the county, but only around 200 have submitted an inspection request form. State mandates call for safety plans, county inspections, affirmations of following the rules, among other issues.

Poloncarz said there is a price for not following the rules.

"We now have a list of over 600 entities in Erie County that appear to qualify under the the gyms, fitness centers, yoga studios and the like. We got your name. We got your address," he said. "We go down there and see you have your clients in there. You're doing whatever it is you normally do there, but you haven't filed an inspection report. We're going to shut you down. We don't want to. We don't, but we will."

Poloncarz said these businesses may have spent heavily to reopen after the long lockdown, but if the rules aren't followed, the doors may have to close again.

County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein said county snitch lines are getting heavy use - like 2,000 calls last week alone - about people violating air travel quarantine rules, while there are fewer bar and restaurant complaints to the county website.

"There's a complaint tab that you can click on and file that complaint," Burstein said. "So, fortunately, this month we've actually been receiving fewer complaints than we did in July. In July, we were receiving, on average, about 25 complaints a day about restaurants and bars and so far this month we're down to the average of about 15 complaints a day."

Burstein said bars, restaurants and other establishments have figured out how to do it right and cooperate with the county on the rules.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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