Governor: NYC playgrounds will close to stop coronavirus spread

Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

All New York City Playgrounds will be closed to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday.

“I’ve talked about this for weeks,” said Governor Cuomo during his daily coronavirus briefings. “I warned people that if they didn’t stop the density and the games in the playgrounds, you can’t play basketball, you can’t come in contact with each other, that we would close the playgrounds.”

The governor added that the NYPD needed to get “more aggressive” when it comes to enforcing social distancing in the city.

After reports of New Yorkers ignoring social distancing rules in the city, Governor Cuomo gave on Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson 24 hours to come up with a plan to curb social gatherings in city parks.

“I am not kidding,” said Governor Cuomo during a press conference on Sunday, March 22, who then called those out and about in the city “ insensitive,” “arrogant” and “disrespectful of other people.”

In response, de Blasio announced that police officers and city park agents would monitor New Yorkers’ compliance with social distancing rules and would ramp up enforcement efforts by asking New Yorkers lingering in parks to go home or separating groups of people and stopping park games like basketball.

The mayor also threatened to lock up playgrounds that continued to be overcrowded. A few days later, the city removed 80 basketball hoops from park courts across the city as another way to stop gatherings larger than 10 people from forming. On Sunday, March 29, the mayor announced that the NYPD would begin fining people up to $500 for violating social distancing rules.

On Tuesday, the mayor followed through on his threat and announced that 10 city park playgrounds would close. The mayor’s office has yet to respond to a request for comment about Governor Cuomo’s order to amNY.

Playgrounds in parks outside of the city will remain open, the governor said. “We don’t have the same density issue at playgrounds upstate,” Cuomo said. If overcrowding becomes in an issue in playgrounds outside of the city though, the governor will call for state-wide playground closures.

The governor did not say when the playgrounds would close.

This story originally appeared on amny.com

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