Experts Say It's OK for a Small Holiday Gathering

"Being outside and getting sunshine is critical for us"

Tom Puckett
May 22, 2020 - 4:00 am
Hot dog and beer

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Buffalo, NY (WBEN)  As we get set for a three day unofficial start to summer weekend, many of us would love to go outside, have a barbecue and a beer with some friends.

Experts say 'relax'.   A gathering is ok, just keep it small.

Ceremonies marking the Monday holiday with 10 or fewer people will be allowed by the state, but at the discretion of local governments, Governor Andrew Cuomo said. Nonessential gatherings have been barred in New York since March, but the governor said honoring the sacrifices of military members is an “important tradition.”

Localities can also stage vehicle parades, which have become more popular during the pandemic.

"Being outside and getting sunshine is critical for us, mentally and physically, but being outside and right next to your friend without a mask may not be helping," says Dr. Kenneth Snyder of Kaleida Health.

"If one of those friends has an elderly person who lives at home with them, remember the vast majoirty of people are asymptomatic with this. You may be spreading it to them, and they're bringing back to their family and loved ones. Even though we're outside and we think the wind will blow it away from us, the wind could blow it to us."

Dr. Tom Russo of UB says it's ok to get outside and "break out of the doldrums they've been in." But Russo advises, wear a mask. "The mask is our ticket to opening more things up." says Russo.

Russo says keep social distancing in mind too. "When you want to take a sip of that beer or a bite of that burger, that's great. You've got to take the mask off and separate yourself a bit so you're out of that danger zone," says Russo, who also recommends keeping gatherings outdoors because of the air volume and outside contaminated particles can be diluted more quickly. 

Erie Count Executive Mark Poloncarz says it's fine to have a small gathering. "Yes, you can gather in smaller groups. But as it was mentioned for church services, less than ten. We're not talking about getting the block party together again, and even if it's small you have to remember social distancing guidelines," says Poloncarz.

Poloncarz says if you don't, you may have another unexpected visitor. "We have sent law enforcement out in the past to advise individuals they are violating the rules. Most of the time the people broke up, so we will continue doing that," warns Poloncarz.

New York officials have been gradually relaxing lockdown rules since the peak of the outbreak.

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