Visitors are still encouraged to maintain social distancing measures on beaches. On June 24, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that New York City’s 8 public beaches will reopen for swimming starting on July 1, with social distancing precautions still in place. Lifeguards will be on duty every day from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm, but the Mayor reminds the public that swimming is strictly prohibited when lifeguards are not present.
Social distancing measures will still be encouraged during this new phase of reopening, and the press release states that New Yorkers must follow directions given by NYC Parks staff and posted on signage at all beaches. NYC Parks Ambassadors will be stationed at the beaches, providing masks and educating beachgoers about safe distancing. If certain areas become too crowded, NYC Parks Ambassadors will direct beachgoers to other beach areas in order to maintain social distancing.
The Mayor emphasizes, “All New Yorkers should continue to wash and sanitize their hands, wear a face covering, and maintain distance between individuals and small groups.”
In the press release, NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP stated, “We want all New Yorkers to enjoy the surf and sand, but more than ever we want everyone to keep safety first. From being water safe and only swimming when a lifeguard is on duty, to adhering to social distancing guidelines and wearing a face covering; it is important that we are cautious and responsible when we hit the beach this summer.”
Mayor de Blasio had previously prevented beaches from opening for swimming on Memorial Day weekend in order to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. The Mayor faced backlash from some public officials such as Alexandra Silversmith, Executive Director of the Alliance for Coney Island, who feared that not stationing lifeguards on beaches could put New Yorkers in danger of drowning. Silversmith also worried that limited beach use could put a strain on local businesses.
By: Victoria Agosta (Victoria is the CityLaw intern and a New York Law School student, Class of 2022.)