Playgrounds could close if New Yorkers do not keep socially distant in parks

REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

Following Governor Andrew Cuomo’s lead, Mayor Bill de Blasio warned New Yorkers Sunday that they need to take social distancing seriously — especially in parks — in order to combat the spread of COVID-19.

“When we say you can go outside for some exercise, we did not say you can linger,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio during a press conference call on Sunday. “We are not saying you can make a day of it, we are saying get the minimum amount of exercise that you need and get back indoors.”

Despite Cuomo mandating that all non-essential businesses close and telling New Yorkers to stay in their homes, many have nonetheless taken to parks to stretch their legs or soak in some sun.

During his daily coronavirus briefing on Sunday, Cuomo said that he was giving de Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson 24 hours to come with a plan to correct the situation.

“The density in New York City is wholly inappropriate,” said the governor on Sunday, displaying a photo of a crowded Prospect Park Farmers Market during a slideshow slideshow. “It’s insensitive, it’s arrogant, it’s self destructive and it’s disrespectful of other people.”

The governor told the city to “get creative” when it came to figuring out how to open space in the city, even giving the green light for opening up some streets.

In order to test if New Yorkers can keep socially distant in parks, de Blasio said that police and park enforcement officers would be more heavily monitoring activity in park playgrounds over the next week.

Parents can not overcrowd a playground and must keep their children away from other unrelated children, the mayor said.

“If we feel like people are taking advantage of the situation in the wrong way or are not paying attention to the rules or creating something that is just not supportable we’ll have to consider shutting them down,” said de Blasio.