(WHAM) - Mayor Lovely Warren and Rochester Police Chief La'Ron Singletary held a joint news conference Wednesday morning to encourage people to celebrate Memorial Day while being outside, but urged caution and adherence to social distancing guidelines.
As the holiday weekend approaches, the weather forecast is looking, in a word, ideal. Temperatures in the high 70s and low 80s with little to no rain are expected for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. With that in mind, it's expected that people will be looking to get out of their houses and enjoy some outdoor festivities for some semblance of a normal life in the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Both the police chief and the mayor stressed that they want people to enjoy the Memorial Day weekend and honor the freedoms given to us at the sacrifice of our men and women who have served our country. In order to do that, they said, people need to follow social distancing guidelines, including remaining six feet apart, wearing a mask, and not holding gatherings of more than ten people at a time.
"The opening phases are based on the metrics and data by the state," Warren said. "One large gathering could very well become the epicenter of an outbreak that would drive those metrics in the wrong direction."
Singletary said Rochester Police officers will be out and highly visible patrolling along Ontario Beach Park and Durand Eastman Park, along with clergy members and Pathways to Peace, to make sure people feel safe and are following proper guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19.
When asked by reporters about enforcement of those social distancing guidelines, Warren and Singletary emphasized educating the members of the public about wearing a mask and staying six feet apart, with citations being a last resort.
"We don't want to create more of a burden on people during this time," Singletary said. "The holidays are meant traditionally to be around your family and to have a good time. So we don't want to create that extra burden on people who are already dealing with enough through anxiety and trauma and dealing with this."
If people do call police about large gatherings or streets being blocked off, Singletary said they will respond to those calls. However, he said they will not be taking people to jail over not following social distancing guidelines. RPD officers have not jailed or ticketed people for those issues, he said.
Mayor Warren also made sure to point out that they are seeing challenges all over the city when it comes to people not following the proper guidelines; this is not happening only in certain neighborhoods.
"It's happening all over our community," Warren said. "In the city, in the county, in rural areas, so we are all in this together. We are not going to have one set of standards for people who live in certain neighborhoods and a different set of standards for people that live in other neighborhoods."
13WHAM News will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.