Beaches in New York will be opened up in time for Memorial Day Weekend celebrations as the state begins slowly “unpausing” amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
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.
Cuomo said that the decision to open beaches was made by a regional approach, in coordination with governors in the other states.
“If Connecticut or New Jersey opened their beaches, we’d see a flood of New Yorkers going there, so we worked to come up with a multi-state agreement that accommodates all needs,” he said. “We want what’s best for New Yorkers, but it’s not in New Yorkers' best interest in going to an overcrowded beach.”
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.
“We’re opening (the beaches) with safeguards,” Cuomo said. “If we don’t open our beaches, you’ll have four million New Yorkers going to Connecticut and New Jersey beaches, so I think this is the plan that makes the most sense.”
Cuomo noted that all state beaches are opening under those guidelines, though city, town, or county beaches can enforce additional rules if they do so choose. Those local beaches have until Wednesday, May 20 to notify the state if they will be open or closed.
“Local governments can decide to open or stay closed,” he said. “If they choose to open, they must adopt the state’s requirements, at a minimum. If they want to impose additional requirements, they are free to do that.”
There were 132 new COVID-19-related deaths in New York overnight, as the total rose to 22,304 since the outbreak began. There have been 1,338,048 New Yorkers tested for the virus, with 345,813 testing positive, though the infection, hospitalization and fatality rate continues to trend down.
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