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Officials: Strict enforcement of COVID-19 guidelines will continue in Seneca County

Officials say they will continue strict enforcement of COVID-19 regulations in Seneca County, but hope to remain business friendly in the process.

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 passed 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.”

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

Last week a local bar had its liquor license suspended after apparent violations in the month of September. While known cases weren’t 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.

On Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo blamed an increase in cases in the state on increases across the entire country where restrictions aren’t 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 resident 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.