With Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Memorial Day quickly approaching, Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis has been reaching out to local cemeteries in an effort to get them to reopen their gates to visitors. If they cannot open completely due to burials, the assemblywoman would like them to at least open for limited hours. Local funeral directors agree that cemeteries should be open this Mother’s Day so loved ones can visit mothers, grandmothers, aunts and others no longer with us. New York State has deemed cemeteries essential and they can be open, however, most on Staten Island have chosen to remain closed to the public.
“People are rightfully going to want to visit those they have lost and I think it would be appropriate, with social distancing guidelines in place, to ensure that cemeteries in our community are open, but especially on these significant weekends,” said Malliotakis. “COVID-19 has taken a mental and emotional toll on so many and visiting a loved one to pray, meditate and express feelings is important and their right.”
Michael Lanza, funeral director of Colonial Funeral Home, agreed saying, “I believe cemeteries should be opened for visitors for outside graves. I understand offices of these cemeteries closed to keep social distancing in effect. However, folks who wish to visit graves outdoors pose no risk to any cemetery personnel. Visiting graves of a loved one is vital to grieving and healing and is part of a decent human society. Cemeteries can and should be able to allow outdoor visiting and at the same time keep an appropriate distance between cemetery personnel and the visitors.”
John Vincent Scalia, Sr., owner of Scalia Funeral Homes, said, “The cemeteries should be open on Mother’s Day. Visiting the gravesite of a loved one is a part of healing, whether it be healing from the recent loss of a loved one or healing from all the community has been through recently. Opening on this important day to give sons, daughters and other relatives a needed chance to visit mothers, grandmothers, aunts is the right thing to do. The visitors should practice social distancing and wear masks as a courtesy to others visiting close by.”
Frank Dillon, owner of Hanley Funeral Home, said, “I think it’s sad that people may not be able go to the cemetery to visit their mother, grandmother or great grandmother on Mother’s Day. I hope everyone will come together and decide to open their gates so loved one can visit, pray and grieve.”
Matthew J. Scamardella of Matthew Funeral Home and Cremation Services said, “the importance of Mother’s Day emotionally cannot be underestimated, especially since COVID-19. Cemeteries on Staten Island might be open limited hours with perhaps a police officer in a squad car present to maintain social distancing.”
Malliotakis has spoken with Staten Island NYPD Borough Commander Chief Corey about arranging for frequent patrols if cemeteries deem it necessary and the increased presence would help them in making a determination to open.