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New York beaches open with restrictions for Memorial Day weekend



State-run beaches in New York are open on Friday for Memorial Day weekend, while strict restrictions are in place to prevent COVID-19 spread.

The opening was announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo last week, as the state saw a downward trend in coronavirus infections. He said local governments could make their own decisions on this issue.

Memorial Day falls on May 25 this year. The long weekend normally sees Americans crowding on the beaches that just get opened to mark the coming of summer.

On New York beaches, capacity is limited to 50 percent, and people are mandated to wear a mask if social distancing is not ensured. Concession stands remain closed.

At the Jones Beach State Park some 40 miles (64km) southeast of Manhattan, dozens of beach-goers were seen lying on the beach or walking on the boardwalk on Friday morning. Rangers kept patrolling for violation of social distancing, and hand sanitizer stations are installed at the park.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said earlier that the city would not open its public beaches for Memorial Day weekend because “we are the epicenter of this crisis nationally.”

However, the New York Police Department (NYPD) said late Thursday that city beaches would be open, just for sunbathing. People can be in the water up to their ankles but any kind of swimming is banned.

People are also advised to avoid mass transit to get to the beaches as crowding on buses and subways would add to the risk of virus spreading.

“We all have fought to get as far as we’ve gotten in these last weeks. We’ve got a lot of momentum now. We’ve got to hold onto it. If we get too loose we’ll start going backwards and the last thing we want is more restrictions on our lives,” said de Blasio on Friday.

The state of New York has reported over 356,000 COVID-19 cases, with over 192,000 in New York City, according to the state data.


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