Coronavirus Updates: New York State Beaches May Open Friday Before Memorial Day

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This is our daily update of breaking COVID-19 news for Friday, May 15th, 2020. Previous daily updates can be found here, and up-to-date statistics are here.

Read our guide to understanding New York on PAUSE, NY’s stay-at-home order; a look at preparing for the spread of coronavirus is here, and if you have lingering questions about the virus, here is our regularly updated coronavirus FAQ. Here are some local and state hotlines for more information: NYC: 311; NY State Hotline: 888-364-3065; NJ State Hotline: 800-222-1222.

12:30 p.m. New York state beaches will be permitted to reopen on Friday before Memorial Day with 50 percent reduction on parking capacity and social distancing measures put in place.

Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered the news on Friday during his press conference, saying he had reached an agreement with surrounding states so that their policies would not flood any one or two states with determined beachgoers. On Thursday, New Jersey Governor Philip Murphy outlined a plan to allow the Jersey Shore to reopen by Memorial Day weekend. Delaware will do the same with its beaches and lakeshores. Connecticut has kept its state beaches open, although some town beaches had closed temporarily following the coronavirus crisis.

“I’m trying to work in conformity or accommodation with our surrounding states,” Cuomo said. “They were going to open beaches. If New York did not open beaches, you would see an influx of people to the Jersey Shore and Connecticut.”

Local governments will decide whether to open their beaches, but need to notify the state by May 20th. They would be required to follow the same social distancing and mask rules as state beaches.

The announcement on beaches comes shortly after Mayor Bill de Blasio said opening the city’s beaches was “just not in the cards right now” (see update below).

“We are reviewing the guidelines the Governor laid out and will make all decisions based on the safety of New Yorkers,” a spokesperson for the mayor said. “Beaches will not open on Memorial Day, but we are putting plans into place so that we can open beaches this summer if it’s safe.”

In addition to reduced parking capacity, beaches that reopen would be required to prohibit group activities, including volleyball and football. Designated picnic areas and playground as well as any amusement rides would remain closed. Concessions will also not be open so as to prevent crowded lines.

All beach visitors must wear masks as long as they cannot socially distance six feet from others.

Brigid Bergin contributed reporting.

Opening Beaches “Not In The Cards Right Now,” De Blasio Says

11:15 a.m. As New Yorkers heads into a gloriously sunny weekend, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Friday that opening the city’s beaches was “just not in the cards right now.”

“It’s painful,” the mayor told reporters during his daily briefing. “We would all love to go to the beach with the hot weather, but it’s not safe yet.”

Local officials have offered mixed signals on whether New Yorkers should expect access the city’s beaches this summer. De Blasio previously said the city may not have the money, even if it was safe to do so, while members of the City Council have pledged to explore options to keep them open.

On Thursday, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said the state’s beaches will open on Memorial Day with social distancing guidelines in place. New York faces a “different reality,” according to the mayor, who pointed city residents’ reliance on public transportation, as well as the fact that New York has fewer miles of accessible coastline than its neighboring state.

De Blasio also seemed to suggest that the NYPD will begin blocking access to city beaches.

“We know there’s a danger in terms of people trying to go in the water, particularly young people going in the water, so we’re going to have a lot of patrols out to deal with that now,” the mayor said.

Further guidance on beaches would be announced in the coming days, he added, emphasizing that the forthcoming “boundaries and rules” could be tweaked later in the summer.

The NYPD will also limit access to Sheep’s Meadow in Central Park this weekend, while monitoring parts of Hudson River Park and Domino Park in Williamsburg, as they did last weekend.

That announcement came as the mayor vowed to “reset” the NYPD’s role in social distancing enforcement, following a series of violent arrests that have drawn widespread backlash. The department will continue to enforce bans on non-essential gatherings, he said, but will no longer take action against those who fail to wear masks.

As the city gears up for a summer without beaches or pools, and amid a growing police presence in other public spaces, the city is preparing at least one bit of recreation: according to the mayor, “misting oases” will soon be available in public parks.

“It will be a strange summer by every measure,” he added.

A mask lies in the foreground on a street in the Financial District, with people out of focus in the background, along with the Fearless Girl statue

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A discarded face mask sits in front of the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street during the coronavirus outbreak Erik Pendzich/Shutterstock

Stay-At-Home Extended For NYC And Some Other Regions Until May 28

The stay-at-home order has been extended until May 28th for New York City and other regions that have not met the state’s requirements to begin the first phase of reopening.

Originally set to expire today, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order late Thursday night that extended the stay-at-home measure, also known as PAUSE.

Five regions have been cleared to begin a limited reopening today: Central New York, including Syracuse; the Finger Lakes, including Rochester; the Southern Tier; the Mohawk Valley; and the North County, which includes the Adirondacks.

Under the first phase, businesses in construction, manufacturing and curbside retail, can reopen with proper social distancing measures in place.

Cuomo has outlined seven public health and testing benchmarks that regions must satisfy before any reopening. New York City has up until now checked off four of the criteria. New hospitalizations are still above the proscribed limit, and the capacity of open hospital beds and intensive care beds is yet to reach the state’s mandated level of 30 percent.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has said that the city could open in June should hospitalizations and infections continue to decline.

Thursday’s order also permitted drive-in movie theaters to begin operating across the state. In New York City, a Queens diner has started hosting drive-in movie nights in their parking lot.

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