New York Eyes Memorial Day Opening for State Beaches

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NEW YORK NOW – State beaches in New York will be open for Memorial Day, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday, in an effort to provide some flexibility for residents and prevent them from traveling to neighboring states to partake.

Beaches controlled by local governments are still up in the air. Local officials have until May 20 to publicly notify residents if they’re planning to open beaches for the holiday weekend.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday that beaches in the five boroughs, minus those controlled by the state, will not reopen Memorial Day.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks to reporters Friday, May 15, 2020. Credit: Dan Clark

Any beach that’s open, Cuomo said, will have to abide by strict social distancing guidelines and capacity thresholds. The beach will be open, but visitors will not have the same experience they usually would, Cuomo said.

Beaches will be monitored for density, and will be limited to half their usual capacity. Parking will be limited and entrances will be monitored to ensure that too many people aren’t coming in. Areas of social gathering, like pavilions or picnic areas, will be closed.

Group contact activities will also be banned, so no one will be allowed to play beach volleyball for the time being.

Beachgoers and employees will not be required to wear masks at all times, but they will be mandatory when social distancing isn’t possible. So, if you’re on the beach and someone’s within six feet of you, a mask will be required.

Staff will also be required at beaches to meet those guidelines. Concessions will be closed.

All of those rules apply for both state beaches and any locally controlled beaches that decide to open.

The announcement was part of a multi-state plan between New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware. Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey had announced Thursday that beaches in his state would open for the weekend of Memorial Day.

Cuomo said Friday that if New York hadn’t opened its beaches alongside New Jersey, people would flock to the latter state and heighten the risk of spreading COVID-19 between the two states.

“If New York did not open beaches you would see an influx of people to the Jersey Shore, Connecticut, etc,” Cuomo said. “That would put New Yorkers in jeopardy there.”

New York has seen a consistently positive trend in its COVID-19 data over the last four weeks, with the total number of hospitalizations reaching 6,394 Thursday, the latest data from the state. That’s a decline of 312 from Wednesday.

Of those, 1,774 people are intubated, which was also a decline over Wednesday’s numbers. An additional 544 people were discharged Wednesday, bringing the total number of people discharged in New York since the crisis began to 60,302.

An additional 132 people died from the virus Thursday, bringing the statewide total number of fatalities to 22,436.