We’ve have been waiting for this moment since last fall!

Weather conditions have come together for an ideal holiday weekend. Temperatures in parts of Northern New York will reach into the 70s and possibly even the low 80s.

While this past winter season was milder than it’s been in recent years, it’s still nice to finally feel the sunshine. People in the north country enjoy cutting loose over Memorial Day weekend and soaking up the warmer weather.

The state issued stay-at-home orders two months ago in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Given that many people haven’t been able to enjoy much of spring as a result, getting out this holiday becomes even more tempting.

But we all need to remain cautious. The three-day weekend combined with warmer and sunnier conditions could make for a perfect storm of recklessness.

Last week, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo traveled to Watertown to announce that the north country could begin loosening some restrictions on designated businesses. Our region reached all seven metrics required to begin Phase I of reopening.

This is certainly good news. It means that some companies can resume operations and put more of their employees back to work.

However, we’re not out of the woods yet. We need to continue observing safety protocols to reduce the possibility of spreading the coronavirus.

“Lewis County Public Health encourages the community to continue to protect themselves, their families and neighbors by following public health guidance for social distancing and washing your hands,” according to a news release issued Tuesday by the Lewis County Public Health Agency. “Now more than ever, being a good neighbor means staying home. If you must go out for an essential task or essential work, you must use a cloth face covering when you are unable to maintain social distancing.”

Scott A. Gray, chairman of the Jefferson County Board of Legislators, said much work remains to be done.

“This is excellent news today [May 13] but comes with a reminder that we have other phases to go through and we need to be mindful of that until we’re fully operational,” he said in a story published May 15 by the Watertown Daily Times. “It’s a victory for today with work to do tomorrow. We had an intense buildup to this, and we’re happy we’re open. But we proceed with caution, and it’s still important to continue the measures in place for social distancing and masks so we’re not held up moving into the next phases.”

St. Lawrence County Administrator Ruth A. Doyle had a similar message.

“While we are encouraged to meet the established criteria to begin Phase 1, we remain concerned that there may be confusion about the need to continue practicing aspects of caution including face covering, social distancing, and disinfecting,” she said in a recent news release. “We would like to make sure that current practices, that may have impacted the recent reduction in cases, are continued to help prevent transmission of COVID-19. While it is true that we have seen multiple days without new confirmed cases, it is possible that we could see an increase that could cause an unintentional setback. We will be prepared to address the needs should they arise.”

We’re all going to want to shed the burdens of isolation and enjoy our first summer-like weekend of the season. But keep in mind the fact that the virus is still here and can be easily transmitted.

Don’t become foolish with your health or the well-being of loved ones. Enjoy this experience, but do it responsibly.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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