Created: May 24, 2020 11:14 PM
ROCHESTER N.Y. (WHEC) – As the music was blaring on the beach at Ontario Beach Park Sunday afternoon, Monroe County Sheriff's deputy Andrew Byea and Sergeant Dan Kawski were beginning their watch on foot.
It's a part of a ramped-up patrol effort by the Sheriff’s Office and the Rochester Police Department for the Memorial Day weekend.
"Beaches, like any holiday, are going to be traffic more than usual," Byea said.
This is not a usual time, however. While Governor Cuomo gave beaches the green light last week, the coronavirus pandemic is still present.
So, while groups of people were spiking volleyballs in the sand and walking the pier, deputies like Byea and Kawski were walking around to keep an eye on the crowds. Their focus: looking out for large groups and safe physical distancing. A restriction on small groups was loosened on Friday.
"A 10-person family might be big to some people, and might be small to others, so we just want to let them know that the guidelines are out there for them to adhere to," said Byea. "And if they have questions about those guidelines, to come to us."
Taking questions first and writing tickets last, both RPD and the MSCO have stated their goal is to "educate" along with performing the regular enforcement.
Not everyone was pleased with what they saw.
Among them was Eleanor Bain, who had concerns with what she says was a lack of masks. News10NBC observed a variety of groups spaced out on the park grounds, but close within their own groups. There was a mix of masked and unmasked people on the sand and the grass. Bain says while she's glad police aren't arresting people, she would like to see more done to educate them.
"They know, but some folks just need it a little bit more than others," Bain said.
As for the rest of the weekend, Byea said deputies will continue to do their part and encourages people at the beach to do theirs.
"Enjoy the weather, listen to the medical professionals," he said.
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