NIAGARA COUNTY, N.Y. (WKBW) — The 4th of July holiday will look and feel different this year during COVID-19. The pandemic forced cancellations of countless traditions. For the Cataract City, Mayor Robert Restaino asked neighbors to follow state guidelines, which means gatherings are limited to 50 or fewer people.
“Let’s celebrate. Let’s have a wonderful time — enjoy family and friends — but let’s do it responsibly,” Restaino said.
The mayor said if police are notified about a large party, officers will give a notice asking for compliance with the state mandate. If upon return that did not happen, he said police will give out citations.
“What’s worrisome to me that we forget, we get complacent. We don’t necessarily think the rules are necessary anymore, if we don’t pay attention to these things, we’ll be the next headline,” Restaino said.
The city is working alongside the county district attorney’s and sheriff’s offices to enforce the mandate.
“We also realize that the virus didn’t take the summer off,” Restaino said.
Niagara County Acting Sheriff Michael Filicetti added: “I’ve been saying since the beginning of COVID-19, it’s about personal responsibility and it couldn’t be any truer than that for the 4th of July weekend.”
Filicetti said his main concerns for the holiday weekend are fireworks complaints and large gatherings.
On fireworks, he said in part, “If you’re shooting off legal ones, do it during normal hours.”
As for large gatherings, Filicetti said: “We’re very, very busy during 4th of July weekend so we’re not going to be party police and going out looking for it, but if we get complaints, we will go and we will educate.” He continued, “If the party is large and unruly and the people are complaining about more than just the size of the gathering and there are problems and parking and loud music, we’ll address those.”
Regardless of where in Western New York the holiday celebration takes place, infectious diseases experts agree it is still important to wear a mask, social distance and wash your hands.
“It’s important to remember that we’re in this together and even though you may feel that your risk of a bad outcome with the new coronavirus is very, very small, it will have consequences,” Dr. Thomas Russo, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo, said.