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Head to the beach for Memorial Day — but stay away from pools

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It's been months that many in New York have been cooped up inside their homes, already missing out on some of the warm weather May has brought. But some holidays that mark the beginning of the season — like Memorial Day — will not be lost.

Although the holiday itself is designed to remember soldiers who have given their lives to protect the freedom of this country, many still use Memorial Day weekend as a means to get away, even for a day or two, preferably near bodies of water like lakes, rivers and even the ocean. 

Even with the coronavirus pandemic still dominating the lives of many, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced over the weekend that New York will reopen some of its beaches beginning Friday. That is, as long as certain conditions are met. 

"No more than 50 percent capacity, and that will be done at parking areas, entrance areas (and) exit areas," Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters during his daily coronavirus briefing on Friday, according to a transcript. "No group activities. No volleyball. No football. Nothing like that. Areas of social gathering will be closed, (like) picnic areas, playgrounds, pavilions, arcades."

The beach opening is part of a multi-state agreement among New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware, as a way to treat reopening as a regional operation, rather than one by individual states.  Each state may have different rules, but for New York, beaches and lakeshores will open, but not swimming pools. 

Masks must be work by all employees and visitors when social distancing is not possible, and no concessions can be open. 

While the order only affects state beaches, Cuomo gave the greenlight for cities, towns and counties to open their beaches, as long as they follow the at least the same guidelines as the state beaches — although local governments have the option of being more strict.

Any local government looking to open will need to let the governor's office know by Wednesday, and they can't open before Friday.

"Reopening must be smart," Cuomo said. "We expect the (infection) rate to go up, but it has to go up at a rate that we can control. The risk is the activity level increases quickly, and then the virus spreads quickly, you overwhelm the health system. This has to be monitored very closely."

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