Should the Beaches Open?

City Council health chair calls for a safe option, but other elected officials aren't on the same page

25 Apr 2020 | 06:57

As temperatures begin to rise and summer is around the corner, the question remains will NYC open its beaches amid COVID-19?

While parks and playgrounds are closed, one elected official feels people should be able to relax in the sand and swim in the ocean.

New York City Council Health Chair Mark Levine told the Westside Spirit that New Yorkers can’t be cooked up inside all summer, so finding a way to safely keep the beaches open should be a priority.

“The alternative you give is no safety valve to the city and going to the beach with no lifeguard protection,” Levine said. “With summer coming, we are going to see less support of social distancing.”

He feels with coordination from the Parks Department and other government officials it can be done. Levine said the hours will likely be limited and there would need to be strict security measures that would enforce social distancing.

“We should start developing a plan now,” he said.

He hopes the confirmed COVID numbers decrease during the next couple months, but if not there should be a viable safe option to keep the beaches open, he reiterated.

Towing the Line with Cuomo

However, other pols aren’t on the same page. Council Member Helen Rosenthal believes nothing should be opened unless city's public health officials approve it.

“Safely opening the beaches depend on several variables, which are all tied to our general ability to manage the pandemic - among them are the status of treatment options for COVID-19, our ability to contact trace and isolate confirmed cases and even the availability of a vaccine,” Rosenthal said.

Councilman Ben Kallos is towing the line with Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“We should stand with Governor Cuomo and the governors of six other states in the northeast in a coordinated re-opening as part of a unified plan,” Kallos said. “I will continue to work responsibly towards re-opening in a way that is safe and doesn't make things worse with overcrowding.”

Earlier in the month, Mayor Bill de Blasio said beaches might be closed for the summer, although no verdict has been reached. Appearing on the Brian Lehrer Show on April 17, the mayor stressed the number one priority is defeating the coronavirus and getting the numbers down.

According to the mayor, if people start gathering in large numbers in a place like the beach, then the virus will spread again and the city is back to square one.

“I don't see any time soon being able to have large numbers of people on the beaches like normal, but I have not said that that's ruled out for the whole summer,” the mayor said. “I've simply said we're not in a position to open them on schedule. I would love for the beaches to be opened on schedule. It's just not realistic.”

"I would love for the beaches to be opened on schedule. It's just not realistic.” Mayor Bill de Blasio