Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) has announced its new guidelines for the 2020 summer waterfront season. Like everything else, the ECHDC and Be Our Guest continue to monitor the situation and follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the New York State Department of Health’s guidelines per COVID-19.
While Canalside is currently open, visitors are asked to adhere to the safety protocols that are in place. More than anything else, people are asked to conduct social distancing measures, while using common sense.
We need to take precautions to protect ourselves and others during these unprecedented times.
“Canalside has become a destination location and is the catalyst for the rebirth of Buffalo’s historic waterfront,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “While in more traditional times we would be welcoming visitors from far and wide, we need to take precautions to protect ourselves and others during these unprecedented times. I applaud Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation and Be Our Guest for taking these necessary steps to safeguard guests and help ensure we can still enjoy the beauty Buffalo’s waterfront has to offer. I encourage everyone to follow the safety guidelines, be physically distant from others, and wear a mask. It is up to all of us to stop the spread of this virus and continue on our path forward together.”
There will be ongoing cleaning and sanitization efforts underway, and visitors will be allowed to use the restrooms one at a time (at both Canalside and the Outer Harbor). Much of the outdoor seating has been removed, to ensure that there is no group gatherings taking place. The seating that remains is spaced over six feet apart. The passive beach is also closed for the time-being, but the transient docks will be open.
Both kayak and water bike rentals will be available at Canalside, while kayak and SUP rentals at Wilkeson Pointe will be open in the coming weeks.
“The Buffalo Waterfront is open for the public to enjoy, we are just asking visitors to be smart and follow social distancing rules while we work to keep our waterfront a safe and beautiful destination,” said Robert Gioia, ECHDC Board Chairman. “The success of the upcoming summer season is entirely dependent on our ability to enjoy the waterfront in a whole new way; without crowds, concerts or even sharing food at a table. But in these difficult times we promise there will still be much to enjoy—especially the water, the wildlife and the magnificent sunsets.”
Hand wash and sanitizer stations will be available on site. The full guidelines can be found here.
The beer and food amenities such as Clinton’s Dish at Canalside and the beer garden at Wilkeson Pointe will be adhering to restriction rules as well. That means that they will be open for take-out orders. There will also be occasional visits from food trucks, with customers being asked to “social distance” when standing in line.
Much of the Canalside programming will take place in a virtual format, including fitness classes and children’s programming. While some of the programs will be axed due to COVID-19, others will be introduced, such as:
- Scavenger hunts
- Creators on the Boardwalk
- Farmers Market at Canalside
- Drive-In Movie Series at the Outer Harbor
The larger events that we are all accustomed to attending will not take place, unfortunately. A listing of all activities will be updated throughout the season, but the initial offerings and hours of operation can be found here.
“Be Our Guest is hopeful there may be opportunities for future events and festivals to be programmed towards the end of summer into early fall, but in the meantime we will continue to offer safe and socially distant programming for our communities to enjoy at both Canalside and Outer Harbor this summer season,” said Kevin Parkinson, Vice President of Be Our Guest, Ltd. “Getting outdoors to walk, jog, hike, or ride a bicycle on a waterfront site is a healthy way to stay active, spend time with immediate household family members, and reduce stress and anxiety when practicing social distancing.”
Visitors should gather in small groups, ideally limited to immediate household members, and stay at home if they feel sick.
The ECHDC has announced that most site vendors will be temporarily closed (until CDC guidelines permit), including bicycle rentals and boat tours, and cruises. That includes the Queen City Bike Ferry, which will be closed for the entire season. In order to better understand the situation at hand, new signage is now in place that will help people to follow the proper protocols. That includes raising awareness about the importance of wearing face masks.
Once again, it is imperative that visitors to Canalside and the Outer Harbor observe social distancing measures during their outings. If people follow the rules and regulations that are now in place, it will be all the more enjoyable for everyone, despite the disappointing restrictions that have been duly imposed.