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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.

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.

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.

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.

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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.

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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.


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