Restaurants may have to put up masks over waste pipes

Written by s h e j l y u y n m ab a l ai s f ha r s m o o k e. CNN

(CNN) – Authorities in New York’s western suburb of Cheektowaga have reinstated a requirement that restaurants display masks on their outside doors to prevent untreated waste from entering drains.

Last year, Mayor Geoffrey Szymanski told CNN affiliate WIVB that people were to wear masks while eating at some establishments as a means of preventing an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease. The disease, which causes pneumonia, is most commonly caused by the bacteria legionella.

The protocol was implemented when outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease began in August 2016. According to CNN affiliate WKBW, more than 40 cases were reported within a month in 2016.

In 2014, a similar outbreak occurred. Since 2014, five of the nine outbreaks have occurred in Cheektowaga.

“The most important thing is to wear your mask. Wear a mask now, don’t wait until the end of the night, get your mask on,” Szymanski said last year.

It was expected the change would affect 14 businesses that might have suffered from sewage backups on their property.

However, officials told CNN that as many as five times that number of restaurants may have been affected.

In a statement on its website , the Cheektowaga Town Board is cautioning residents to be aware of their surroundings and consider wearing masks if they think they may have been exposed to Legionella.

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