Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday that beaches will be closed for swimming over Memorial Day weekend, despite New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s move to allow the reopening of beaches statewide.
“If you want to walk on the beach, fine,” the mayor said during a news conference Monday. “But no swimming, no lifeguards, no parties, no barbecues, no sports.”
“Anyone tries to get in the water, they’ll be taken right out of the water,” he warned.
De Blasio added that “fencing” will be “in position” should New Yorkers fail to abide by his orders, though he did say he’d prefer not to use the fencing.
“The fencing, again, is available, but we don’t want to use it if we don’t have to,” de Blasio said. “The goal is not to have it implemented.”
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It wasn’t immediately clear why swimming, among all beach activities, drew the ire of de Blasio. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to people through the bodies of water. Though the mayor did add that swimming is dangerous because lifeguards won’t be around.
“It is not beach season like normal,” de Blasio continued. “It is a pandemic.”
“If more enforcement is needed, we’ll do it,” he added, while suggesting that he is hopeful beaches in the city will be reopen for all activities by the end of the summer.
The mayor noted that opening the beaches to swimming and other activities is “not the right thing to” since New York City remains the “epicenter” of the pandemic in the United States.
As of Tuesday, New York City had reported more than 190,000 confirmed cases of the virus, resulting in at least 15,983 deaths.