New York, May 23 (IANS) Beaches in New York have reopened 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, the epicentre of the pandemic in the US, saw a downward trend in coronavirus infections, reports Xinhua news agency.
He said local governments could make their own decisions on this issue.
Memorial Day falls on May 25 this year.
On New York beaches which reopened on Friday, capacity is limited to 50 per cent, 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 64 km 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 it would not open its public beaches for Memorial Day weekend because “we are the epicentre 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 official data.