Long Island officials have expressed concerns over New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision to not open city beaches for Memorial Day Weekend even though state beaches have been cleared to open.
During his daily news briefing on Friday, May 15 in Albany, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that state beaches in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware will reopen on Friday, May 22, though there will be strict restrictions in place. Memorial Day is Monday, May 25.
However, de Blasio bucked the order, announcing that he would not be opening beaches in the five boroughs, prompting fear of overcrowding at beaches on Long Island.
“I’ve said before, I’m going to say again, we are not opening our beaches on Memorial Day, we are not opening our beaches in the near term. It’s not safe. It is not the right thing to do in the epicenter of this crisis,” de Blasio said.
“Imagine the scene on the A train with people going out to the Rockaways, or any other train where people go to the beach, or the buses. We’re not going to allow that crowding to happen. So the word is no, not yet. Not now, beaches are not open for swimming, they’re not open for all the normal things people do in beach season.”
That decision drew the ire of officials on Long Island who fear overcrowding at their beaches when they are opened up for the holiday weekend, with certain restrictions in place.
Nassau County communications director Christine Geed said in a statement that "everyone has a right to enjoy a safe summer with fresh air and relief from the heat, which is why the mayor’s refusal to implement social distancing guidelines and enforcement to keep New York City beaches open, like every other municipality in the tri-state area, is both irresponsible and short-sighted.
“We are one region, but the mayor is effectively skirting his responsibility to safeguard public health by creating an alternate reality where people will not travel over Memorial Day weekend,” Geed added.
There will be an increased police presence at some Long Island beaches over the weekend to ensure beach-goers follow the proper protocols, while some will be restricted to just residents and renters.
State officials agreed that beaches must stay below 50 percent capacity, which will be monitored at the entrance and exit points. Group contact activities and sports are prohibited, masks must be worn, and social distancing will be enforced.
Though the beaches will be open, concession stands will be closed, as well as picnic areas, amusement rides, arcades, and other gathering areas.
“If we don’t open our beaches, you’ll have four million New Yorkers going to Connecticut and New Jersey beaches," Cuomo said, "so I think this is the plan that makes the most sense.”
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