Coronavirus: Americans hit the roads, beaches on U.S. Memorial Day weekend

Americans excited about what for many was their first big break from coronavirus shutdowns flocked to beaches and outdoor areas on Saturday, snarling roadways and forcing some closures on the Memorial Day weekend that signals the start of the U.S. summer.

In Destin, Florida, The Back Porch, a surfside restaurant on Henderson Beach, was full.

READ MORE: U.S. divided on how to respond to coronavirus pandemic as cases top 1.6M

The restaurant was operating at 50 per cent seating capacity to ensure that chairs and umbrellas could be placed 6 feet apart, and newcomers had to wait for places to become free before they could enter, said hostess Julianna Preede, 18.

“There’s a lot of people here right now — it’s a holiday weekend,” Preede said.

2:03Coronavirus outbreak: Vehicles disappear from select Toronto streets

Coronavirus outbreak: Vehicles disappear from select Toronto streets

In Arizona, holiday travelers flooded Interstate-17, causing a 15-mile backup on the roadway used for access to some of the desert’s most beautiful canyons, the Arizona Department of Transportation said.

Some recreation areas, including Saguaro Lake, became so crowded that authorities had to shut them down.

Boaters crowd an area known as “Crab Island” in the shallow waters near Destin Fla., Saturday, May 23, 2020, as the long Memorial Day weekend begins during the coronavirus pandemic.
Boaters crowd an area known as “Crab Island” in the shallow waters near Destin Fla., Saturday, May 23, 2020, as the long Memorial Day weekend begins during the coronavirus pandemic. (Michael Snyder/Northwest Florida Daily News via AP)

While the Memorial Day holiday that honours the U.S. military dead is on Monday, the weekend leading up to it marks the unofficial start of summer, with Americans traditionally flocking to beaches, gathering at backyard barbecues and unfurling picnic blankets in parks.

Among those soaking in the sun and enjoying a bit of travel on Saturday was U.S. President Donald Trump, who was seen golfing at his Trump National club in northern Virginia, his first golf outing since the White House declared a national emergency over the coronavirus outbreak in March.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Couples separated by U.S.-Canadian border finally embrace at Peace Arch park

Trump has been eager to promote the idea that the United States is returning to normal.

Arlington National Cemetery, which holds veterans of U.S. conflicts including the Civil War, remained open only to family pass holders who must have a face covering to enter. Access was granted to visit gravesites only, with no touring allowed.

In rain-soaked New York, epicenter of the coronavirus crisis, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at his news briefing on Saturday discussed his decision to allow up to 10 people to attend ceremonies honoring America’s military veterans, warning that social distancing and face masks should be part of any plans to get together.

0:57Coronavirus outbreak: Trump plays first round of golf since pandemic started

Coronavirus outbreak: Trump plays first round of golf since pandemic started

“It depends on how people act. You can have a safe gathering of 10 people. You can also have a wholly unsafe gathering of 10 people,” Cuomo said.

Heavy downpours kept crowds down at state beaches in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, which were re-opened with governors urging people to stay at least 6 feet apart, the recommended distance to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Surprise openings of other outdoor sites thrilled Americans cooped up at home by pandemic lockdown rules.

READ MORE: What is coronavirus contact tracing and how important is it as Canada reopens?

Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota welcomed visitors again starting on Saturday, earlier than expected, inviting in admirers of the 60-foot-high granite sculptures of the faces of U.S. Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.

A woman wears a mask to protect agains coronavirus, walks through a field of flags ahead of Memorial Day, Saturday, May 23, 2020, in the Seaport District in Boston.
A woman wears a mask to protect agains coronavirus, walks through a field of flags ahead of Memorial Day, Saturday, May 23, 2020, in the Seaport District in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

The U.S. death toll from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, continues to rise and is expected to surpass 100,000 in the coming days, the highest number of any country.

The New York Times marked the expected milestone by filling the entire front page of its Sunday edition with the names, ages and brief details of some of the virus victims and the headline “U.S. DEATHS NEAR 100,000, AN INCALCULABLE LOSS.”

6:20Coronavirus outbreak: Cuomo blames White House for directive on releasing patients back into nursing homes

Coronavirus outbreak: Cuomo blames White House for directive on releasing patients back into nursing homes

The paper said it drew from 1,000 obituaries and death notices in hundreds of U.S. newspapers to highlight the pandemic’s individual human toll.

This week, 11 states have reported a record number of new COVID-19 cases, including Alabama, Arkansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, New Hampshire, Maryland, Maine, Nevada, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin, according to a Reuters tally.

READ MORE: Trump goes golfing for 1st time since coronavirus was declared national emergency

Iowa had a record increase in deaths on Saturday, as did Minnesota and Rhode Island earlier this week, according to a Reuters tally.

1:54Coronavirus outbreak: Study finds hydroxychloroquine may be tied to higher fatality risk for COVID-19 patients

Coronavirus outbreak: Study finds hydroxychloroquine may be tied to higher fatality risk for COVID-19 patients

© 2020 Reuters

Article Source

Pinterest