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City Parks and Playgrounds will Remain Open; Two Streets Per Borough Will be Closed to Traffic

Big Bush Park in Woodside (Daniel Avila/NYC Parks)

March 25, 2020 By Allie Griffin

New York City parks and playgrounds will continue to remain open — as long as people adhere to social distancing rules and avoid group sports, Governor Andrew Cuomo said today.

Cuomo asked the City Council and Mayor Bill de Blasio to come up with a plan to patrol city parks after he visited the Big Apple over the weekend and saw groups of people congregating and playing sports, like basketball, inside the parks.

“The New York City parks have been a problem,” the governor said at a press conference in Albany today. “I saw the problem myself firsthand.”

He gave city officials 24 hours over the weekend to come up with a plan — which he has now signed off on it.

The city has banned group activities like barbeques and basketball, as well as organized sports in its parks. It is urging the public to observe social distancing requirements and not to congregate. He said that the NYPD will patrol parks and issue warnings to those who disobey the rules.

He said playgrounds will remain open and he is asking parents to keep their children six feet apart from other kids.

The mayor will reassess the situation Saturday and said he will close the playgrounds if New Yorkers are not abiding by the rules.

New York City Parks Dept., which has banned group play at basketball courts (Photo: Hunters Point South Park in Long Island City)

“If people follow those rules, my hope is the playgrounds stay open,” de Blasio said yesterday at a City Hall conference. “If they don’t follow the rules, most assuredly, the playgrounds will be shut and we will make that decision by Saturday evening.”

The city will also close two streets off to traffic — per borough — and open them up to pedestrians as part of a pilot program it’s launching Thursday. The DOT has not yet announced the streets that will be shut down.

“The plan is going to pilot closing streets in New York City because we have much less traffic in New York City,” Cuomo said. “Open the streets. People want to walk, you want to go out and get some air. You want a less dense area, so pilot closing streets to cars, opening streets to pedestrians.”

Members of the NYPD and other city agencies will patrol both the parks and streets and give warnings to people who are not adhering to proper social distancing protocols.

De Blasio is urging residents to follow the rules when they head to parks.

“We’ll have some warmer days coming up. We’ll have a chance to see if people have gotten the message,” de Blasio said yesterday. “We will be doing all the enforcement, but if by the end of Saturday, it is not sufficiently clear that New Yorkers are following these new rules, at that point we’ll be prepared to shut down playgrounds for the foreseeable future.”

Cuomo reiterated the necessity to listen to the rules today.

“No close-contact sports in a playground — no basketball, for example. You cannot do it,” he said sternly. “We’re asking people to do that on a voluntary basis — if there is noncompliance with that, we will then make it mandatory and we will actually close the playgrounds.”

The state closed the playgrounds it administers on Saturday. The only state-run playgrounds in Queens and Brooklyn are in Long Island City. These were closed — along with the basketball courts and athletic field nearby.

A children’s playground in Long Island City that was shut down on Saturday. It is administered by New York State (Queens Post)

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Gardens Watcher

Sandra, The New York Times have been covering these kinds of questions in depth. They’re providing free access to their Coronavirus coverage. The online readers’ comments get even more specific. The guidelines for safety have been changing, so check for updates daily.

Yes, The virus can stay on some surfaces for days and aerosolized for some time. Healthy joggers in my neighborhood have been running in the street, which is smarter and more considerate for their neighbors (especially for seniors) than running on the sidewalks. People need to severely limit their outdoor exposure if we are to have a chance to halt the spread. Period.

Social distancing is not working well enough. The problem is not just on the basketball courts and in the playgrounds. If you have to be out, please put the phone down when out walking so you can see who’s coming your way. It won’t kill you to be be more socially aware.

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Mima

I wonder how much of the much needed city money were spent on those posters….. use the money somewhere else, close the parks, let’s get real people….

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Gardens Watcher

OMG. I can’t believe this is even a question. Shut down the playgrounds already!

Hope we get more cold, rainy days. That’s the one thing that’s keeping people inside.

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Sandra

I thought we were still shelter in place or on pause. Now they are going to turn some streets into sidewalks? Well, I guess the police is finding it impossible to implement social distancing among certain groups. Can you get the virus just by someone exhaling or talking real close to you? Does is stick on your clothes/shoes? I am starting to think so. None of this nonsense is taking place in the EU in regards to telling people to stay home and then providing more space to walk around. They all are wearing masks and we can not even find them here. Why is NYC not giving out the number of people who tested positives by neighborhood and not just boroughs?

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