New York City Mayor Mulls Restricting Entry to Parks

May 7, 2020 Updated: May 7, 2020

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday the city is considering restricting entry at certain parks to prevent overcrowding in a bid to stem the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.

The mayor said the efforts would boost efforts to maintain social distancing measures as the weather gets warmer and more people go outdoors.

“There are certain parks where the–just the configuration of the park lends itself to overcrowding and we’re working on strategies right now to address that,” he said during his daily COVID-19 briefing.

The mayor said the decision to consider imposing entry limits on parks comes after “extensive conversations” with other agencies and that he would be announcing more details about the initiative on Friday.

“There’s no question that in a toolbox of approaches that we could use to help make sure social distancing works, if we’ve got some parks that are just the way they’re set up is it’s just too easy to have crowding, we can’t let that happen and we have to limit the number of people going in,” de Blasio said.

The mayor indicated the entry caps would not cover all the parks in New York City.

“It’s not that many places, honestly, but wherever that is the case, we’re going to work with a protocol to do that. It’ll take some experimentation, it’ll take some effort to make sure it works, but I think it’s a good direction,” he said.

In New York, the country’s hardest-hit state, bars and retail businesses deemed non-essential remain closed and restaurants are limited to takeout and delivery business.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has in recent days started to outline the criteria for loosening restrictions in his state, after a three-week decline in hospitalizations and a downtrend in the daily death count.

President Donald Trump has largely allowed governors to determine their own response to the outbreak, but has encouraged them to start reopening, concerned by the economic devastation caused by the national shutdown.

With decisions left to the states and localities, the country’s reopening has been a patchwork, ranging from cautious to aggressive.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that starting on Friday, florists, toy stores, music stores, bookstores, clothing, and sporting goods stores may offer curbside pickup.

Seattle’s King County, an early virus hotspot, plans to reopen hiking trails and more than 28,000 acres of park space on Friday, though restrooms, picnic shelters, and playgrounds will remain closed.

In general, states have kept their public transportation systems running but closed their public school buildings and switched to remote teaching for the rest of the academic year.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Follow Tom on Twitter: @OZImekTOM