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Poloncarz warns of fines for COVID rule breakers

Cabin fever is pushing people not only out for a walk but also into walking in groups, as well as encouraging some businesses which are not essential into operating. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says fines loom for businesses and individuals who are not following the rules.


The most visible start in forcing social distancing will be in Delaware Park where Mayor Byron Brown is now banning parking on the Ring Road to allow more room for people walking around the park. The Buffalo Zoo opening its parking lot for use in daylight hours, with the mayor suggesting a donation to the zoo for people who use the lot.


The county executive says he has visited some county parks and found problems in crowding when people should be separate. Poloncarz says businesses and citizens have to realize there can be severe penalties.


"Up to $2,000 for a first-time violation. When's the last time you got a ticket for $2,000? It can happen. Second violation is $5,000. This is not just businesses that are inappropriately activated and open. This can be individuals who are violating the six-foot standard," Poloncarz said.


The county executive said any police department can enforce these rules because they are a violation of law, not a gubernatorial decree. 


"Folks, take it seriously. If we don't stop the spread of the coronavirus and COVID-19 cases in this community, many, many more people will die," he said.


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.