Congrats, Long Island, we made it to Phase Four. Just don’t get too excited about it.
Starting on July 8, Nassau and Suffolk residents now have more access to the inside of their favorite restaurants as capacities are increased. Museums and art galleries have the green light to open their doors to the public again. We can once again visit zoos and see our favorite marine animals and fish at the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead.
Of course, having access to these recreational activities comes with a long list of restrictions that rival a CVS receipt. Social Distancing and the ability to keep surfaces clean will limit what can be accessed or open to the public. Capacities will also be limited to between 25 and 33 percent, depending on the venue.
No matter where you go, inside or outside, you will always need to wear a mask. That is a state mandate for your safety and the safety of the people around you. For me, I start to hyperventilate after 30 minutes in the supermarket with my mask on. I don’t see how I could wear it for hours at a time just to see the penguins at the aquarium.
Of course, after almost four months of being cooped up with the kids, a day trip to the Long Island Game Farm sounds reasonable, no matter the restrictions. Just make sure you pack the kiddies and head out to Manorville early before they reach 33 percent capacity.
But there are restrictions. For one, only the outdoor exhibits are open, but not the rides or the Main Stage show. They also aren’t renting any equipment, like strollers or wagons. The pony rides are also off limits.
The People Food Café isn’t open for cooked food like burgers or chicken nuggets, but they will sell you snacks and drinks. Unfortunately, you also can’t bring any outside food or coolers. There are exceptions for small snacks or baby formula, just no lunches. Better eat a big breakfast before you get there.
Please understand, I’m not picking on the Long Island Game Farm. Part of the agreement for Phase Four reopening will need to be done in stages. Of course, maybe if half of their exhibits and activities aren’t open, they could offer desperate parents a break on the admission fee.
Phase Four restrictions on indoor activities are forcing the Long Island Aquarium to adapt if they want to open their doors. The days of wandering around the exhibits with the kids and lingering as long as you wish are over.
Tickets need to be purchased in advance for a specific time to visit with 200 spots limited to every hour. There are now one-way markings on the floor to keep you moving, like shopping at IKEA. No more doubling back or crisscrossing across the floor willy-nilly. Most five-year-old kids understand that, don’t they? If you want to see something again, you must exit the building (through the gift shop, of course) and start at the beginning.
No more touching the glass or even getting close to it. Only one family at a time can stand in front of the tank windows. All the encounters like the touch tanks and some outdoor shows are canceled. You can still see the stingrays, but you can’t touch them.
Again, I’m not picking on the Long Island Aquarium, just informing you that Phase Four may not be all that it’s cranked up to be. There are still so many restrictions that I wonder if its worth it to venture out of your house.
Maybe you don’t have to. After all, Phase Four also allows you to plan and attend gatherings of up to 50 people now. Since we missed Memorial Day and Independence Day, why not get the old gang together for a weekend? I understand National Chili Dog day is celebrated this year on Thursday, July 30.
Sounds like a good idea to me.
Paul DiSclafani, a Massapequa resident, is a 2018 Press Club of Long Island award-winning columnist and an Anton Media Group contributor since 2016.