A viral video showed a group of business owners angrily confronting a sheriff's deputy and health official who came to shut down their gathering, an incident that took place amid growing tensions between businesses and leadership in the state of New York.
As WBEN reported, the incident took place in the Buffalo suburb of Orchard Park, where more than 100 people gathered to meet inside Athletes Unleashed gym. The group included concerned business owners and residents who were discussing the effects that Gov. Andrew Cuomo's coronavirus restrictions have had on the local economy. Tim Walton, one of those in attendance, said that officers from the Erie County Sheriff's Department and local health officials came into the gym to break up the meeting, telling the people inside that they were breaking New York's rules against mass gatherings.
That was when the angry confrontation began, with many of those in attendance raising their voices and demanding that the officials leave.
"With cell phone cameras trained on a health department representative, the angry crowd resisted the interference, demanded a warrant and began to chant 'get out, get out.' At one point during the video of the incident, the health department representative explains that the visit is not criminal in nature but rather a 'code enforcement' visit," the report noted.
The people inside the gym continued to tell the officials to leave, which they did after several minutes.The video captured some viral attention online, with many posting it on social media and sharing the frustrations of business owners hit hard by restrictions meant to slow the spread of coronavirus.
In New York, Cuomo has implemented a system where restrictions heighten as rates of positive tests go up. As WIVB reported, Erie County has seen a surge in infections and now has its highest-ever rate of hospitalizations, with 265 patients hospitalized with COVID-19. The rate has put the region into the state's "orange" category, the second-highest level. Though New York has lower rates than many other areas of the country, Cuomo has adopted an aggressive approach to identifying and attempting to shut down localized outbreaks.
As a separate report from WIVB noted, the orange category means that gyms, salons, barbershops, and personal care services have been forced to close for the immediate future. That has prompted many residents to travel to nearby Niagara County, which remained in the state's "yellow" category through the weekend. The report noted that salons there have been booked out with appointments from residents who live closer to Buffalo.