What to Know
- The NYPD will limit access to Central Park's Sheep Meadow, along with Hudson River Park Piers 45 and 46
- Police will not take enforcement action against those who fail to wear face coverings, the mayor said
- The mayor said enhanced NYPD patrols will monitor activity as city-run beaches in the Rockaways, Coney Island and Orchard Beach this weekend
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio debuted new social distancing enforcement practices on behalf of the NYPD, a department already under fire for tactics used in some cases.
Given crowding concerns, police are limiting access to Central Park's Sheep Meadow, along with Hudson River Park Piers 45 and 46. Nearly 2,300 social distancing ambassadors and supervisors have been deployed.
The NYPD will continue to enforce Cuomo's ban on gatherings, focusing on groups of more than six adults, de Blasio said Friday. Each NYPD precinct has a dedicated car to respond to social distancing complaints, and police were seen handing out masks late Friday in Central Park.
Absent a serious public danger, police will not take enforcement action against those who fail to wear face coverings, the mayor said. Video of a mother's arrest for refusing to do so in the subway system prompted new criticism this week against the NYPD.
While de Blasio has taken issue with its methods in isolated cases, he says masks and social distancing are proven infection mitigators. Continued enforcement is necessary to push the infection rate down and move closer to reopening.
“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 explained Friday.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said the NYPD's enforcement of social distancing mirrored previous policies that targeted people of color, like stop and frisk. He called the changes in department tactics "extremely positive steps."
"I am grateful that he heeded our call and heard the voices of so many Black and Brown New Yorkers who understood that you cannot bring about a city-wide "reculturing" through punitive measures," Adams said.
Tracking Coronavirus in Tri-State
The mayor said enhanced NYPD patrols will monitor activity as city-run beaches in the Rockaways, Coney Island and Orchard Beach this weekend. The announcement came just before New York Gov. Cuomo revealed state-run beaches would reopen in one week, the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend, a plan coordinated with neighboring states.
No plans have been announced to open city-run beaches or public swimming pools, and other places where New Yorkers go to escape the heat such as movie theaters and shopping centers may remain closed for weeks or months.
New York City will spend $55 million to provide 74,000 free air conditioners to low-income older adults who may be cooped up inside their apartments all summer because of the coronavirus pandemic, de Blasio said Friday.
“Knowing that low-income seniors are the most vulnerable, we’re going to start an initiative right away to get them air conditioners,” de Blasio said.
Other measures aimed at helping New Yorkers survive summer in the era of social distancing will include setting up air-conditioned cooling centers in facilities such as gyms and libraries and opening fire hydrants safely.
“This is all about protecting New Yorkers and helping them through the summer,” de Blasio said.
While parts of upstate New York began a partial reopening on Friday, Cuomo has said that New York City will not begin reopening until mid-June at the earliest.