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Liberty Island Among Outdoor Attractions To Reopen As NYC Enters Phase 4

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - New York City is officially in Phase 4, which means some outdoor attractions are back.

Liberty Island welcomed back visitors Monday, months after the attraction was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Ferry crews and visitors were excited to get back out onto the water for the first time since March, CBS2's Natalie Duddridge reported.

However, there are new safety protocols in place to get to Liberty Island.

MORE: Road To Reopening: New York City Set To Enter Phase 4 Monday

Duddridge reported seeing about 50 people lined up at Battery Park to take the trip, whereas lines were typically much longer before the pandemic.

"There's nothing like New York by water," said Port Captain Matthew Gill. "We hope our local fan base can come out... New York, New Jersey, Connecticut... "

Gill said boats would normally be packed with tourists and visitors, but just 39 people were on board the first sail this morning.

"There's never going to be a better time. You have your own, intimate, basically, the island all to yourself, without any outsiders," said Gill.

"We've increased our cleaning protocols aboard the vessels at the departure points, at the ticket booths. Social distancing measures, as well. We're queuing visitors six feet apart, face masks as a requirement," said Rafael Abreau, director of marketing for Statue Cruises.


Once on the island, visitors can get a close-up view of Lady Liberty, but that's it - no climbing the stairs to the inside of the crown.

The pedestal and museum are closed, too.

So is the museum at Ellis Island.

Officials told CBS2 Liberty and Ellis Islands' indoor attractions will reopen once museums are given a green light, but leaders have yet to announce a date.

RELATED STORY: Museums Across Country Struggling As Coronavirus Shutdown Continues

In the meantime, Liberty Island is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 6:45 p.m.

Phase 4 allows low-risk outdoor attractions, like zoos and botanical gardens, to reopen, too - places where people can practice social distancing.

"I'm a social person, so I like to be around people. The animals are even better," said Della Regina, a Bronx Zoo regular who was thrilled to be back for the first time since mid-March.

The zoo is limited to one-third capacity.

Film and media production can get rolling again, as long as it's outside, like at Silvercup Studios in Queens.

Professional sports can also start up, but without fans in the stands.

The Highline and Governors Island opened last week with limited capacity.

Some people told CBS2 they're glad they can take in the sights without the crowds.

"We're actually going to try to go to different places in the city," said Keith Rolban, a New Jersey resident. "We arrived here yesterday, going to different spots. Tomorrow, we're going to go to the Empire State Building."

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The observation deck at the Empire State Building also reopened with limited access Monday.

The New York Aquarium is still closed, as are city courts.

Many indoor activities, which were expected to be allowed in Phase 4, are being held back. They include indoor dining, movie theaters, malls and gyms.

"Things that we're still not certain can be done right," said Mayor Bill de Blasio, who reminded New Yorkers to wear a mask and follow the rules.

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