Lockdown weary New Yorkers headed to city parks and boardwalks Sunday – but were warned beaches in the Big Apple will not be open for Memorial Day weekend.
As the weather heats up, more and more residents are flocking to public spaces and familiar haunts for a sense of normalcy after spending most of the last two months cooped up inside.
But pictures show those out and about are not always policing themselves and Mayor Bill de Blasio said opening the city’s strands ‘is not the right thing to do in the epicenter of this crisis.’
He also pledged to clampdown on people hanging out around bars in the city.
The city’s beaches could be closed off completely to public access if people don’t follow social distancing rules, de Blasio said Sunday.
Fences being installed at entrances could be rolled out if beaches — meant now only for nearby residents to exercise — get overcrowded or people violate swimming bans, he said.
The mayor did say beaches could open for wider use sometime in the summer, with lifeguard training over the next few weeks for a possible return to duty.
New York City Mounted Police patrol Central Park’s Sheep Meadow in New York on Sunday. Lockdown weary New Yorkers headed to city parks and boardwalks Sunday – but were warned beaches in the Big Apple will not be open for Memorial Day
Orchard Beach in the Bronx borough of New York, Sunday: Parks, boardwalks and beaches attracted some crowds this weekend, though city beaches aren’t officially open and won’t be for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend
People exit Central Park, Manhattan on Sunday: As the weather heats up, more and more residents are flocking to public spaces and familiar haunts for a sense of normalcy after spending most of the last two months cooped up inside
With temperatures rising and ‘quarantine fatigue’ kicking in, medical experts fear there may be an uptick in COVID-19 cases as people head outdoors more frequently.
Officials are now trying to invent new ways to implement crowd control to stop potential outbreaks. On Sunday law enforcement helped to hand out 7.5 million free face coverings across the five boroughs.
After giving updates about the coronavirus in the city, de Blasio addressed questions about beaches reopening in the city.
‘There’s obviously a huge interest in the beaches and the state of New York has said that different localities can make different choices and some are deciding in the metropolitan area to open beaches for Memorial Day – the traditional start of the beach season.
‘I’ve said before and I’ll say it again. We are not opening our beaches on Memorial Day. It is not safe. It is not the right thing to do in the epicenter of this crisis.’
New York City was declared the epicenter for the virus in the United States mid-March. There are more than 190,000 confirmed cases of the virus with at least 15,888 confirmed deaths and 4,832 probable deaths.
Central Park, Manhattan: eople wearing protective masks walk their bicycles past a social distancing sign reading “KEEP THIS FAR APART” at Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in Central Park on Sunday
Orchard Beach in the Bronx borough of New York, Sunday: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city’s beaches could be closed off completely to public access if people don’t follow social distancing rules
Mayor Bill de Blasio said opening the city’s strands ‘is not the right thing to do in the epicenter of this crisis’
De Blasio said city officials are going to be ‘very smart and careful’ about reopening and will continue to watch indicators, which don’t ‘have us where we need to be yet’.
‘After all of the progress we’ve made fighting back this disease, we’re not taking that chance,’ he added.
The mayor said he hasn’t ruled out beaches reopening later in the summer.
De Blasio said walking on beaches is permitted, but if people start to swim or defy social distancing guidelines then the city will take more drastic measures and put fencing in place to keep people out.
During his Sunday morning press conference, de Blasio also addressed reports of people hanging out around bars in the city.
‘The bars are a different matter,’ de Blasio said, referring to multiple reports that people were gathering on sidewalks and drinking Saturday night on the Upper East Side.
‘I’m not comfortable at all with people congregating outside bars. It’s the same rule.
‘If you start to form groups of people and then 2, 3, 5 and it becomes 6, it becomes 10, it becomes 15, that violates what we’re saying about social distancing and that puts lives in danger.’
‘We are not going to tolerate people starting to congregate. It’s as simple as that,’ de Blasio said, adding that more officers will be sent to the Upper East Side to patrol the area.
On Friday, Gov Andrew Cuomo announced that New York state beaches will be open for Memorial Day Weekend.
Local agencies can decide not to open them, but if they choose to they must meet Cuomo’s guidelines.
People adhere to social distancing guidelines in Central Park in New York on Sunday
A security guards asks people to not swim while patrolling at Orchard Beach in the Bronx borough of New York, Sunday
Officials are now trying to invent new ways to implement crowd control to stop potential outbreaks
Brooklyn Bridge Park, Sunday: Law enforcement helped to hand out 7.5 million free face coverings across the five boroughs
The decision was made in coordination with New Jersey and Connecticut, which previously announced May 22 reopenings for their beaches.
He said on Friday that he had to do the same for New York to avoid people from the state flocking to New Jersey or Connecticut’s shores and potentially sparking another outbreak.
Half the normal amount of people will be allowed on to the beaches and it will be enforced at parking lots. People must stay 6ft apart and if they are unable to, they must wear masks.
Cuomo has extended the stay-at-home order until June 13 but regions are likely to meet reopening requirements before then.
While the beaches will reopen, concession stands will not be open to avoid people lining up for food and drinks, Cuomo said.
A security guards patrols Orchard Beach, primarily to keep people out of the water, in the Bronx borough of New York, Sunday
People are seen practising social distancing in white circles in Domino Park, Brooklyn on Sunday
Sun-seekers were expected to stay inside the large circles – dubbed human parking spots – which were sprayed six feet apart
Managers at one New York City park have painted white circles on the grass in a bid to enforce social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic.
On Friday, sun-seekers arrived at Domino Park in Brooklyn to find that they were unable to lay out where ever they wanted.
Instead, they were expected to stay inside the large circles – dubbed human parking spots – which were sprayed six feet apart from one another.
On Sunday Cuomo received a test in order to demonstrate how ‘easy’ and ‘fast’ it is to get one done because New Yorkers are not getting tested.
‘The new problem is we have more sites and more testing capacity than we’re using. We have drive-thru sites that can do about 15,000 [tests] per day. We’re doing about 5,000 per day,’ Cuomo said.