A dozen people gather at ‘Reopen Rochester’ protest outside Pittsford Wegmans

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PITTSFORD, N.Y. (WROC) – About a dozen “Reopen Rochester” protesters gathered Monday outside the Pittsford Wegmans. They said they want Upstate New York to reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The leader of “Reopen Rochester” said it’s a grassroots organization not affiliated with the national group “Freedom Works.”

Protester Susan Barrett has a nursing background and said she believes the virus is real. But she said she also believes her rights are being taken away.

“We’re closing down our country for something that, yes, is really really awful but I think right now the cure is worse than the disease,” Barrett said.

While protesting, some people wore masks and some didn’t. Some people stood six feet from others and some did not. When asked if they’re worried about another surge if the economy reopens too early, Barrett and other protestors said that can’t be prevented either way.

“I think it’s time to open and if you’re going to get a second wave, no matter what you do it’s going to come,” Barrett said.

“Obviously people that are at risk should take precautions and be safe, I think anybody that’s concerned can stay home that’s always an option, but those of us that are low risk that have a 99.9 percent chance of recovery, I think shouldn’t be under house arrest,” said protester Debra Wallace.

Wallace also said we’ve flattened the curve enough.

“I think if you keep everyone locked up forever then you face a lot of social issues and so I think we need to look at the whole picture and not just one tiny issue of people getting sick. Not that that’s insignificant, but it’s small when you look at all of society. We need to look at the big picture here.”

A small, yet similar demonstration was held Friday at the Liberty Pole in Rochester.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that parts of upstate New York could reopen as soon as May 15 under a phased reopening plan. He cautioned that the Centers for Disease Control has said that coronavirus hospitalizations must decline for 14 days before reopening. According to the Monroe County Health Department, Monroe County is not currently seeing a decline in hospitalizations.

Cuomo said some businesses like salons or restaurants could be slated to reopen in phase two of the plan, but the owner of The Pizza Stop planned on reopening his dining room to customers on Monday, going against county and state orders.

However, he then said the Town of Pittsford Code enforcement told him if he did, he would be “out of business entirely.”

In a News 8 special on Friday, Rochester Chamber of Commerce President Bob Duffy answered the questions our community submitted about this pandemic; what it will take to reopen, how long can the shutdown last, and more.

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