Bello, Dr. Mendoza call on Gov. Cuomo to release ‘clear, and specific’ guidance for festivals


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Monroe County Executive Adam Bello and Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza are calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to providing more guidance on outdoor gatherings and festivals.

The two released a joint statement on Thursday. Last week, Corn Hill Arts Festival announced this year’s event is canceled. Earlier this week organizers with the Park Ave. Summer Art Fest announced this summer’s event was also canceled. The Hamlin Fire Department and Spencerport Fire Department have cancelled their carnivals as well.

Elsewhere, organizers with the Lilac Festival are moving forward with plans for three weekends in May, and the Rochester International Jazz Festival has plans for a summer event at the RIT campus this year. The Fringe Festival has announced intentions of a hybrid festival, with some events being virtual and others in-person.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday the New York State Fair will be held for a full 18 days at the end of summer. He said current plans are for a 50% capacity restriction, but said attendance control could change as vaccination progresses against the pandemic.

“Rather than cancel, we’ll do the best we can,” says Jeff Sprigut, who reminds all—- the Lilac Festival is on for May but it’s been months of work, a lot of rejection, and re-organizing. 

“There were many conversations back and forth about what we couldn’t do,” he says adding, “And then we researched around the state to see what people were doing safely.”

Guidance he said, scattered and unclear. Earlier this week, Justin Roj with the City said, “I think everybody’s frustrated by that lack of guidance. Our hope is that we can resolve that so we can have more events this summer.”

Springut says it’s easy to say Albany didn’t plan enough for festivals this year, but…we are dealing with a pandemic, adding, “I don’t know if festivals were at the top of their list at that time…I think the more clarity we can get, the better off everybody’s going to be.”

Fairport Canal Days is still scheduled for June 5-6, but organizers say that too is subject to change:

Joint statement from Bello, Dr. Mendoza

“Over the last week, several local outdoor festivals and events have been forced to postpone their 2021 events because of the lack of clear and reasonable guidelines from New York State. While we are disappointed with these developments, we also recognize that advanced planning for successful outdoor festivals under the current guidance is incredibly challenging.

Recent studies have shown that outdoor events and gatherings have low rates of transmission, especially when proper mitigation measures are in place and people have been vaccinated. It is crucial that our community find ways to gather together safely outdoors in the coming months, at festivals and the other summer activities we had to forego last year.

In order to do so, we are calling on Governor Cuomo and New York State to issue updated, clear guidance and guidelines specific to festivals. Without new guidelines, it is inevitable that additional festivals will be dealt the same fate as those we’ve heard from this week.

Until the time that such additional guidelines are issued, the team at the Monroe County Department of Public Health will continue to work with organizations hoping to host their events this summer to provide advice related to best practices and the state guidelines as they currently exist.  We continue to ask all festival organizers in Monroe County to contact MCDPH to discuss the state guidelines and measures that can help ensure festivals are able to resume in a safe and appropriate manner this year.”

This is a developing story. News 8 WROC will provide updates as they become available.

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