Rochester businesses prepare for potential changes as NY reviews CDC masking guidance


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — As New York reviews the CDC’s new recommendations on masking, local businesses are preparing for future safety changes. 

On Tuesday, the CDC said fully-vaccinated Americans who live in areas with high virus transmission should wear masks in indoor public spaces. 

In Monroe County, health officials said a local mask mandate isn’t being considered at this time. However, things could change as cases continue to increase in the Rochester area. 

“We tend to be proactive rather than reactive so if we feel like it’s something we should do, we won’t hesitate to go ahead before that recommendation comes about,” Scott Pukos, the Pubic Relations Coordinator with The Little Theatre said.

The back-and-forth guidelines from state and federal health officials hasn’t been super easy on businesses. Masking, social distancing and capacity rules have changed quite a bit over the past year-and-a-half. 

‘It’s something that is difficult to communicate when you keep changing, when policies are constantly changing people don’t know what to expect when they come in, which is not something you want as a customer, as a guest of the Little, or any business, you want to know exactly that you’re going to be safe and you can have a good time,” Pukos said. 

While masking guidelines haven’t changed in Monroe County, they still could. On Wednesday, the county had 47 new cases and an average positivity rate of 2.2%. County health officials have attributed the more transmissible Delta variant to the rise in cases.

Businesses say it wouldn’t be super easy to go back to masking after people have gotten used to not wearing them. 

“It would be difficult because there is going to be people with varying opinions on the pandemic so that has been part of the issue all along is just dealing with different opinions and it would be very difficult to enforce at this stage of the game right now,” Jon Gonzalez, Manager at Hegedorn’s Market said. 

The Little Theatre was closed for 13 months during the pandemic and when they opened, they did require masks for a while. Pukos believes people would understand if they have to go back to doing so. 

“I think there will probably be a little disappoint in having to go back to it because people don’t want to, but I think they would also understand the reason why, that it’s for safety,” Pukos said. 

Business leaders are also hopeful that if county guidelines do change again, they will be prepared after a lot of practice. 

“When we got into this and didn’t know what to expect it was really difficult to understand everyone’s policies but now I think it would be simpler at this stage,” Gonzalez said. “Of course it’s concerning but I think we’re in a good place right now and hopefully this is just a bump in the road and we’re looking at the big picture and we continue on a good pace here at this stage.” 

Local businesses tell News 8 they are waiting for updates from the Monroe County Health Department before making any changes. 

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