New Yorkers anxious after two months of coronavirus quarantine received unexpected relief when Governor Andrew Cuomo eased restrictions on public gatherings in the state for the War Memorial Day holiday.
On Friday night, the Governor signed an executive order to allow people to gather in groups of a maximum of 10 people, as long as they are kept at least two meters (6 feet) apart from each other and wear masks when not can keep that distance.
The surprise came hours after the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) filed a lawsuit against previous orders allowing meetings only for religious services and holiday commemorations. The NYCLU argued that the constitution requires that the same rights be extended to people gathered for other reasons.
Cuomo’s decision could clear the way for New Yorkers to go on a picnic to parks and patios – if they don’t get too close to their friends. They can also head to the beaches of New York City this weekend, although they should not expect to get into the water and will have to wear masks.
Weather reports forecast rain for Saturday and overcast skies on Sunday.
Although beaches in other parts of the region will be open for swimming, Mayor Bill de Blasio has said that swimming is not allowed on the city’s beaches and may not be for the entire summer.
“I have made it very clear that the beaches are not open for swimming,” de Blasio said Friday in his daily press session on the coronavirus. “There will be no lifeguards. People shouldn’t go to the beach to swim. “
The danger of swimming without lifeguards on the beaches was highlighted the day before when a 24-year-old man drowned in Rockaway Beach in the Queens area.
The main reason offered by the mayor for the beach swim ban is to reduce the spread of the virus by not encouraging people to use public transportation.