New York City residents should be allowed to flood Long Island beaches, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio, officials are exploring making them for exclusive use by residents of Nassau and Suffolk.
While beaches in New York State and neighboring states will largely be opening their beaches for Memorial Day, New York City beaches would remain closed for swimming.
The announcement drew the ire from officials on Long Island, who are fearful of crowds from the five boroughs flocking to their beaches, making it more difficult to enforce social distancing and other safety protocols being put 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.
In response, on PIX11, de Blasio said that “this should not be about any ill feeling toward people depending on where they come from.”
“This is about there are really clear limits on beaches that will be open and everyone needs to respect that to keep us all healthy and safe in the entire metropolitan area,” he added.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced on Monday, May 18 that county beaches would be reserved for only Suffolk residents. In Nassau, lawmakers are working on a bill that would do the same.
"People will flock to the beaches and we want to make sure that when that happens, that it is in a controlled environment with safety protocols in place that allow people to be able to enjoy the beach in a safe way,” Bellone said.
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.
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