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State Fair will be open at full capacity; Erie County Fair must wait and see

State Fair will be open at full capacity; Erie County Fair must wait and see

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Cuomo at Sahlen Field (copy)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference at Sahlen Field on May 12.

Erie County Fair organizers are waiting to hear if the fair can operate this summer at 100% capacity.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Monday that with Covid-19 rates at record lows, the New York State Fair can be held at full capacity.

It was the second time in two months that Cuomo made an announcement about the state fair without mentioning the fate of dozens of county fairs, also a summer staple. Some county fairs have already been canceled.

A spokeswoman for the Erie County Fair said since the governor made no mention of county fairs, organizers must wait for more information.

On April 26, Cuomo said the capacity at the state fair – which will run from Aug. 20 to Sept. 6 in Geddes, outside Syracuse – would be capped at 50%. It was not until May 17 that he released guidance for county fairs that indicated capacity limits would be based on social distancing requirements.

After hearing that news, local officials said the Erie County Fair would be held this year, accommodating up to 74,000 people a day while adhering to 6-foot social distancing guidelines. The projected attendance was smaller than normal daily counts of 100,000 and 120,000 people at past fairs.

Fair manager Jessica L. Underberg said she took the 2.6 million square footage of the fair and figured out how many people could be in attendance at 6 feet apart.

"It's probably a conservative number, and then taking into account the people who come with their own family don't need to be spread out," she said.

Erie County Fair attendees will not be required to be vaccinated or undergo Covid-19 testing to enter, organizers previously announced.

The Erie County Fair is scheduled to take place Aug. 11-22.

Social distancing will be encouraged – where possible – and unvaccinated attendees will be asked to wear a mask at the state fair, Cuomo said during a news conference Monday at the fairgrounds. Vaccinated attendees will not be required to show proof of vaccination, he added.

"Otherwise, it will be the fair as you know the fair," the governor said.

When it was announced in April that the state fair would go on at reduced capacity, the statewide positivity rate was 2.06%. It has since dropped to 0.41% as of Sunday, Cuomo said. The rate also has dropped in the Central New York region.

The state would adjust capacity limits "if something happened dramatically" with Covid-19 positivity, the governor said.

News Staff Reporter Barbara O'Brien contributed to this report.

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