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Amherst to declare town state of emergency in response to COVID-19

Amherst Supervisor Brian J. Kulpa said Sunday morning he is declaring a state of emergency in the town in an attempt to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The order, which he said he expects to formally issue later in the day, includes scaling back some government operations.

He said the town plans to hold its next Town Board meeting, scheduled for March 25, will go on but without any audience. Members of the public will be able to watch a live stream of the meeting.

Meetings that typically include public hearings, such as the town's Planning Board or Zoning Board of Appeals, will be canceled for at least the next 30 days, Kulpa said.

The town isn't directing employees to work from home yet, but supervisors starting Monday will begin to determine how that would work and who could perform their job remotely, he said.

The town also is asking the public not to come to the Town Clerk's Office or other offices at Town Hall for non-essential tasks.

Amherst officials also will urge groups such as religious institutions not to hold services or other large public gatherings.

Stores, restaurants and bars are allowed to remain open but must abide by the state's directive limiting their capacity, Kulpa said.

Kulpa said he made the decision in part for a procedural reason to aid school districts in the town that may consider closing. Districts typically must hold 180 instructional days to be fully eligible for state aid, but may still receive aid for instruction below that threshold if a local state of emergency is declared.

Other counties around the state have declared states of emergency.

Live: State of Emergency declared in Erie County, schools closed to all students Monday

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