It’s hard to believe a year has already gone by since the massive Buffalo blizzard rocked our area.  

The catastrophic weather event brought forth many questions from residents to our local officials, one of which was “Who is considered an essential worker?”

There were several headaches and confusion for local workers who were told they had to report to work because they were deemed “essential,” only to find themselves and their fellow travelers in a dangerous situation.

Buffalo City Hall In blizzard
Getty Images/Canva

Hopefully, some of the confusion as to who and who isn’t essential during a weather emergency will be cleared up from Erie County’s new Essential Employee Exemption Portal.

Erie County Clarifies Who Are Essential Workers

Meant to be used during snowstorms and other local emergencies, the Essential Employee Exemption Portal will determine who and who isn’t allowed to be on the road during a travel ban, keeping those who shouldn’t be on the roads home to prevent road blockages for emergency and utility vehicles.

As explained by Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, 

“The problem is magnified when you have vehicles on the roads that shouldn’t be there and then block the ability of public works and utility trucks to get down and try to fix what is down.”

The portal will divide workers into a 3-tiered system, and only certain types of businesses will be considered essential, and will be reevaluated every year. 

To qualify, organizations need to fill out a form and submit it to Erie County. 

Drivers who are found on the roads during a travel ban who are not regarded as essential could be charged with a Class B misdemeanor and a $500 fine.

LIST: Workers Considered Essential In Erie County, New York

According to WIVB, here are the categories that Erie County views as essential and eligible to apply to drive during a travel ban.

Gallery Credit: Getty Images/Canva

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