Memorial Day is an important American tradition meant to celebrate and honor our veterans, and it has become a staple pastime for many New Yorkers to enjoy the outdoors and often travel for the long weekend.
This Memorial Day, we have to do so smartly and safely as we continue our efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic and keep the number of infections, hospitalizations and deaths down.
We are on the other side of the mountain — we cannot go backwards now.
The Governor announced that the state will be allowing Memorial Day ceremonies of 10 people or less, along with vehicle parades to honor our brave and selfless veterans. It is up to local governments if they wish to hold these ceremonies.
And with the warmer weather finally upon us and people anxious to get outside, the Governor announced that state beaches and lakes will be open starting Friday for the Memorial Day weekend. Again, it is up to local governments if they would like to open their municipal beaches and lakes as well.
Strict social distancing guidelines will be encouraged and enforced, with no more than 50 percent capacity allowed and areas of social gatherings, like picnic areas and playgrounds, will be closed. This is all being done in coordination with our neighboring states Connecticut and New Jersey.
Regions across New York State, including all seven regions of Upstate New York, have met the seven metrics to start reopening under phase one – which includes construction, manufacturing, retail (curbside, drop-off, and in-store pickup), and agriculture, forestry and fishing.
As the weather continues to get nicer and warmer, we know this is the time people want to be outside. As a frequent visitor to the Catskills, I know people want to travel to the area where they can enjoy the outdoors — like the many lakes, parks and trails the Catskills has to offer.
People can visit the state’s many parks and walk, hike, and cycle trails, but we strongly encourage social distancing and wearing a mask to ensure the health and safety of themselves and others.
I urge New Yorkers not to forget the importance of safety as we enjoy the holiday and nice weather. We’ve sacrificed so much to get to this point – we cannot erase our progress.
The coronavirus is still prevalent in our communities. It will not take a vacation. We have to be smart and learn from our actions. Please exercise good judgment, respect others and be safe.
Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul is the 77th Lieutenant Governor of the State of New York.