New York mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday warned that swimmers at city beaches will be extricated from the ocean over the summer for violating coronavirus restrictions.
“Anyone tries to get in the water, they’ll be taken right out of the water,” de Blasio told reporters at a press conference. On Sunday, the mayor said his administration would “not tolerate” gatherings of people that “put lives at risk.”
New York City’s beaches will remain closed to swimmers at least through Memorial Day weekend, the traditional season opening. City officials fear that crowding on beaches might contribute to a renewed outbreak of coronavirus, as well as crowding on public transportation used to arrive at the shoreline.
“Imagine the scene on the 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,” de Blasio said on Sunday. Beaches will likely remain open for nearby residents to stroll, as long as they socially distance from other people.
De Blasio’s comments come after the mayor announced on Friday that the NYPD would relax enforcement of certain requirements including the wearing of face masks, but would continue to limit large gatherings of people.
“We’re going to focus on when it starts to be more than a handful of people, and we’re not going to be having the NYPD enforcing on face coverings,” de Blasio said. Over the weekend, police were stationed at several parks including Washington Square and parts of Central Park to limit overcrowding.
Earlier this month, Police Benevolent Association head Patrick Lynch warned that officers could not be expected to enforce social distancing measures for much longer.
“The NYPD needs to get cops out of the social distancing enforcement business altogether,” Lynch said in a statement. “As the weather heats up & the pandemic continues to unravel our social fabric, police officers should be allowed to focus on our core public safety mission. If we don’t, the city will fall apart before our eyes.”
The NYPD and city administration have faced criticism after several instances involving police and suspected violators of social-distancing restrictions. On May 7 it was revealed that 35 out of 40 people arrested for breaking social distancing were black, leading to accusations of racism. Police were also forced to break up an ultra-Orthodox Jewish funeral earlier this month after initially permitting it to go ahead, when unanticipated crowds of mourners showed up.