Calarco: Enjoy the summer, but do your part


We are well into the summer season here on Long Island. For many of us, that means fun outdoors at our world-class beaches, camping out at our wonderful parks, or traveling to experience new places and meet new people. This year, though, due to the pandemic, we have to change how we enjoy our long summer days.

Although we recently entered Phase 3 of our careful reopening, we must remember the risk that COVID-19 still unfortunately presents to all of us. This is a delicate process, and new record-high outbreaks in other parts of the country should serve as a warning of the dangers this virus still poses. That is why we must be vigilant during this time and find ways to have our summer fun, while staying safe. Thankfully, there is still plenty to do here in Suffolk with local businesses, organizations, and our parks department finding creative solutions to provide safe summer fun.

Our beaches are beautiful and a wonderful public space for us all to enjoy. But given the unprecedented times we find ourselves in, their use, too, must be limited to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Thankfully, we can all take basic steps to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and those around us. That means practicing social distancing from those outside of our own households, wearing a mask when it is not possible to stay six feet or more away from others, and keeping beach blankets and chairs at least 10 feet apart from other beachgoers. With these careful considerations for everyone’s health, our beaches remain open at 50 percent capacity. Smith Point Beach is open to Suffolk County residents only from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., with a lifeguard on duty from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tiki Joe’s will also be open at Smith Point. Fishing is also allowed at our beaches, with a few restrictions that are meant to protect each other and our environment. Visit the Suffolk County Parks Department website for more information and to learn the steps you should take before visiting: https://suffolkcountyny.gov/Departments/Parks.

Campgrounds are open as well, offering unique opportunities to explore Long Island’s natural beauty and experience what makes our area so special. Tent camping opened July 1 and new camping reservations will remain open until Dec. 12, 2020. In addition to social distancing and mask wearing, there are additional precautions being taken to ensure everyone can stay healthy while enjoying the area. Campsite occupancy is being strictly enforced to a single household residing at the same address. No visitors are permitted at your campsite who are not members of your household. Many public gathering spots have been closed depending on the park, with all playgrounds, no matter the location, being closed. Nevertheless, camping remains a great way to discover the splendor of our environment.

Hiking and biking are also great ways to keep your social distance while enjoying our great outdoors. With numerous choices throughout Long Island, there are so many ways to really get to know our area better. Here in our community, Cathedral Pines Park remains open to hikers and mountain bikers alike. Just remember to bring your mask in case you encounter someone while on the trails. To learn more about the many different trails that Suffolk County has to offer, visit our website: https://www.suffolkcountyny.gov/Departments/Parks/Things-To-Do/Hiking.

With Long Island now in Phase 3, certain restrictions have been lifted on businesses. Under this new phase, restaurants are now allowed to seat patrons indoors at 50 percent maximum capacity. Outdoor dates: https://patchogue.com/.

This will be a different kind of summer for all of us, but thankfully there are still plenty of ways for us all to have our summer fun and make sure that our family, friends, and neighbors stay safe. We will all have to be more careful and more alert in order to prevent the reemergence of widespread coronavirus in our community. All of us have a responsibility to each other to make sure this does not happen, and it only takes a few simple steps to do your part. Wearing a mask and maintaining social-distancing practices will make us all safer and healthier


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