BY TIMOTHY BOLGER
Mayor Bill de Blasio said city residents should not be barred from flocking to Long Island beaches in the wake of his decision to keep city beaches closed over Memorial Day weekend.
His comment came a day after Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said Smith Point County Park and Cupsogue Beach County Park will be limited to Suffolk residents only. Nassau County Executive followed suit Tuesday and restricted access to Nickerson Beach Park to Nassau residents.
The Town of Hempstead, which borders the city, also restricted access to its beaches — Lido Beach Town Park and Point Lookout Beach — to Nassau residents.
“This should not be about any ill feeling towards people depending on where they come from,” de Blasio told WPIX. “This is about real clear limits on the beaches that will be open and everyone needs to respect that to keep us all healthy and safe in the entire metropolitan area. In New York City, it’s just not time for beaches yet.”
New York State beaches on Long Island, such as Jones Beach State Park, remain open to all New Yorkers, although all beaches will be capped at 50 percent capacity to maintain social distancing and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Beaches on Long Island run by the 13 towns and 95 villages will each set their own rules before opening, pending state approval.
“There is no summer on Long Island without the beach, and now more than ever our shores will serve as much-needed relief for residents looking to beat the heat,” Curran said Tuesday morning. “In order to ensure Nassau residents can enjoy our only county-operated beach, I will sign legislation designating Nickerson Beach for Nassau residents’ use only.”
The Nassau County Legislature is holding an emergency session at 11 a.m. Wednesday to vote on the Nickerson Beach residency restriction.
Bellone chided de Blasio for his comment.
“This isn’t about ‘ill feelings,’” Bellone tweeted. “There is reduced capacity due to the #COVID19 emergency. Unfortunately, the mayor’s decision reduces capacity even further across the region.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo was asked about the issue at his daily coronavirus news briefing, whch on Tuesday afternoon happened to be on Long Island.
“It’s up to the local governments,” he said.
Regardless of the expected added traffic to LI beaches from the city, Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said his officers will deal with it the same as they do with big events such as the Fourth of July and the air show.
“There’ll be an overflow,” he said, “but we’ll be able to handle it.”
This story first appeared on longislandpress.com.