MAYVILLE – While Chautauqua County’s Executive agrees wearing a mask will prevent the spread of COVID-19, he feels the statewide mask mandate that went into effect Monday isn’t the best strategy and thus he will not be enforcing it.
Executive PJ Wendel says in the past similar mandates have not been the best approach, with many small businesses faced with a tough decision: enforce the order or face losing customers.
“I can’t tell you how may times in the last 24-hours I’ve heard people say, ‘if that’s what they are doing here I’ll go to Erie and shop,’ that’s concerning,” said Wendel.
Early on in the pandemic, Wendel says many fights broke out at businesses who enforced statewide mandates; something he fears will return.
“There are some people that are looking for that strife and conflict, please, it’s Christmas, if you walk into a business and they have the mandate there, and ask you to wear a mask, if you don’t wanna wear it, then turn around a leave,” continued Wendel.
The executive says if the state wants the mandate enforced, they will have to do the policing on their own.
“It will be interesting to see how fast they bring in staff to enforce it, because for two years now in two administrations I’ve asked for vaccination help and testing help and we’ve received nothing from the state,” said Wendel.
The executive goes on to say that encouraging vaccinations, and identifying and isolating those who test positive, is the greatest need right now to reduce the spread and subsequently prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.