The city continues to clarify what it means about “closing the city beaches,” as the three-day Memorial Day weekend approaches.
A press conference held Thursday afternoon at Coney Island Beach, hosted by Brooklyn South Commander Chief Brian Conroy, revealed that the beaches will be open, but swimming will not be permitted because there are no lifeguards.
“We’re happy to be here…we want to encourage people to be safe,” Chief Conroy said. “Use common sense to be safe. Watch out for each other. Respect the virus. And together we’ll get through this and have a great weekend.”
Conroy said officers will be staffing the beach, augmented by School Safety Agents, Park PEP officers and park staff. He said while no swimming will be permitted, beach visitors will be permitted to wade and go ankle deep in the water and surfers will be permitted, but “the water is not for swimming.”
“We’re working together with our partners in the Parks Department to keep people from going into the water,” Conroy said. “We’re there to keep people safe and work with our partners, and all together we’re going to have a great weekend.”
Conroy added that officers will “not be enforcing social distancing.” However, he added, “we do enforce criminal violations and will still be doing that as we always have.”
The NYPD earlier this month had cancelled the beach police details with the idea that the beaches will be closed. But then, government leaders pressured the mayor who then asked the NYPD to restore 50 officers. Then, it was upped to 100 and now, it may be as high as 250 officers city-wide on beach detail. This is in addition to hundreds of school safety officers who will be on duty this weekend.
The state beaches are a different story. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that beaches are open, but will be kept at 50% capacity. Swimming will be allowed where lifeguards are on duty.
Also, the MTA is discouraging beach goers from using mass transit so that health care workers and first responders can use the trains safely to get to work. The MTA said Thursday it would continue to maintain its trimmed-down essential service schedule through the holiday weekend.
This story first appeared on amny.com.