John Syracuse, vice chairman of the Niagara County Legislature, on Monday said golf courses, campgrounds and boat launches in Niagara County are open in full accordance with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive orders, as well as guidance from the Niagara County Department of Health.
“Over these last several weeks, there has been evolving positions from New York state, different actions taken in neighboring counties and a general sense of confusion over what is allowed and what is not relating to these recreational activities,” Syracuse said. “We hope this statement today brings clarity to what is allowed in Niagara County.”
Syracuse said steps are being taken to help maintain proper social distancing, and it is expected those who partake in any of these activities will abide by the appropriate guidelines. For example, at the Niagara County Golf Course:
•Tee times are available by appointment only. Call 716-439-7954 to set up a tee time.
•Fewer tee times are allowed per hour.
•Golf carts are not available at this time.
•Pro Shop remains closed.
•The greens’ cups have been partially blocked to reduce the need to retrieve the ball from the hole. Flags should not be touched.
•Ball washers and other common surfaces have been covered and are not available for use.
“We have sought guidance from the Niagara County Department of Health and we are confident we are striking the right balance between the need to continue to be vigilant in our COVID-19 fight and the desire for some measure of opening things up,” Syracuse said. “If we find a disregard for social distancing protocols in these venues, we will adapt our policy accordingly.”
Syracuse noted Niagara County continues to evaluate all aspect of government services under its control to see what services can be provided in concert with state directives.
“Clearly, the vast majority of the decision-making on what is open and what is closed rests with Gov. Cuomo,” he said. “But now that we have adjusted to this situation over the last month, we are looking for new ways to provide services to our residents without compromising anyone’s safety.”
Cuomo, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont on Saturday announced marinas, boatyards and marine manufacturers are allowed to open for personal use as long as strict social distancing and sanitization protocols are followed.
Chartered watercraft services or rentals are not allowed, and restaurant activity at these sites must be limited to takeout or delivery only, like anywhere else in the three states.
"Throughout this pandemic, we've worked closely with our friends in neighboring states to implement a uniform regional approach to reducing the spread of the virus," Cuomo said. "Aligning our polices in this area is another example of that strong partnership, and will help ensure there is no confusion or 'state shopping' when it comes to marinas and boatyards."
As part of her LCTV community update on Monday, Niagara County Legislature Chairwoman Becky Wydysh said, “We just want to make sure that our residents understand that all social distancing rules are in effect in these situations. We're taking many special precautions to be sure that these activities are offered up safely for our residents, of course.”
Niagara County Public Health Director Daniel Stapleton said, “I think the No. 1 criteria we all follow is making sure we respect the social distancing requirements, and making sure that the density of people, the population, is spread out. Those are just smart things to do. And I think, based on people being able to follow those rules and those recommendations, I think people should be at no risk.
“But people need to make sure that they're following recommendations, because these are made with a lot of discussion, a lot of consideration. And as long as people follow those guidelines that you stated, people should be safe.”
Wydysh noted, “These activities can be done safely – like going out and taking a walk with your family. This is not the time to get together with your friends that you're not seeing right now for a camping trip or a round of golf. This is immediate family who would be doing things together, already at home.
“It's safe to sit around a campfire with just the parents and the children; or to go out for that round of golf with a parent and a child. This doesn't mean that we want individuals to start socializing with other individuals yet – that they aren't normally living with.
“As long as people are following those distancing guidelines, these activities will be available; but we will, of course, monitor that situation if we need to – and just make sure that everyone's following those guidelines to keep everyone safe at this time.”