New York City

NYC Council Members Ask Mayor to Open Beaches for Swimming

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What to Know

  • New York City joined the rest of the tri-state area in reopening its beaches Friday; they are still closed to swimming
  • Social distancing will be strictly enforced; capacity at all tri-state beaches is limited to 50 percent and capacity could be hit early
  • Council members asked Mayor Bill de Blasio to reopen all beaches to swimming

New York City beaches are open, just not for swimming.

Beaches in the city are limited to 50 percent capacity and social distancing is said to be strictly enforced. Masks are mandated when people can't stay six feet apart.

Beachgoers are welcome to enjoy the sand and can even enter the water up to their ankles. But the only people allowed past that are surfers.

Speaker Corey Johnson and more than half a dozen other council members who represent neighborhoods with city beaches want Mayor Bill de Blasio to reopen for the beaches for swimming. Together, the officials drafted a list of recommendations that includes swimming as well as access to bathrooms, transportation options and face masks.

"We've already seen it in recent weeks - as the weather gets warmer, residents WILL go outside," cautioned Council Member Chaim Deutsch.

The council published the following recommendations:

  • Beaches should be open for swimming and permit stationary/sunbathing activities.
  • Restaurants on or adjacent to beaches should be permitted to open.
  • Bathrooms should be kept open, same as NYC parks.
  • Soap and sanitizer must be in all bathrooms.
  • Mask use should be required on boardwalks or whenever mobile on the beach.
  • Lifeguards should be provided with PPE (masks, gloves, respirators guards/facemasks)
  • Use social/health ambassadors, including youth and other community partnerships, to educate the public on social distancing policy and mask requirements, instead of relying on NYPD for enforcement.
  • Beaches will need an increase in receptacles for masks, gloves, and other PPE to minimize litter cleanup at the end of the day.
  • Increasing transportation options will increase the ability for social distancing.
  • Lastly, we must also be looking at non-beach activities for neighborhoods who aren't near the beach.

"Access to city beaches isn't just a summer fun issue. It is an equity issue and a public health issue," Johnson said in a statement. Council members Donovan J. Richards, Steven Matteo, Joe Borelli, Mark Gjonaj, Mark Treyger, Eric A. Ulrich and Peter Koo also signed on to the recommendations.

On Friday, a 24-year-old male drowned in the water off Rockaway Beach. Officials said three people went swimming together, but only two made it back to the beach uninjured. No lifeguards are working at beaches while swimming is banned.

NYPD beach patrols will be up 30 percent of the holiday weekend and Parks Department patrols will make sure people understand the rules, the mayor said.

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