It's been more than two months since Gov. Andrew Cuomo has locked down New York state. But now, with hope the state is on the other side of the coronavirus pandemic, some state beaches are re-opening for swimming just in time for Memorial Day weekend.
The catch? For anyone living in New York City, actually making it to the beach and getting into the water carries about the same odds as winning the lottery. More or less.
City beaches are closed for swimming, but will be open for other recreational activities according to the city's parks department. That includes walking, running, access to the sand and boardwalks, during regular park hours.
Among the beaches expected to be open for that kind of access are Orchard Beach and Promenade in Pelham Bay Park, as well as Rockaway Beach and Boardwalk in Neponsit, Queens. Other open beaches are on Staten Island and in Brooklyn.
But that's not the only catch: Those looking to get to the beach aren't legally allowed to take buses or trains to get there. Mass transit remains reserved for "essential" workers only, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
"We understand people have been cooped up and are going to want to celebrate Memorial Day weekend, but essential service remains for essential workers, and those making essential trips only," MTA chair and chief executive Patrick Foye said, in a release. "It is not for recreational travel to beaches."
Just in case, the MTA says it will keep police stationed at major entry points and key locations throughout the city, and will take appropriate action to alleviate any overcrowding found on subways, buses or commuter trains.
That includes the Long Island Rail Road, which otherwise could have been transportation for many to beaches expected to allow swimming there. The state has opened Jones Beach, Robert Moses, Hither Hills and Sunken Meadow between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., throughout the weekend. However, these beaches could have restrictions in place that include capacity levels, access restricted to locals only, and more.
For those who do make it to one of the state beaches, groups must be limited to member of an immediate household. They must maintain six feet of distances from others while swimming and on the beaches and boardwalks, They also need to keep blankets and chairs at least 10 feet apart from others, while wearing a mask when unable to maintain social distance. They also must refrain from group activities.
State parks will generally operate only at 50 percent capacity with limited parking and other means of entry. There will be no group contact activities allowed, including sports like volleyball and football. All beachfront concessions will be closed. And there will be constant cleaning and disinfection for restrooms and frequently touched surfaces.
Even lifeguards will take precautions beyond regularly disinfecting and sanitizing equipment and surfaces. They also will be given a pack that contains a mask, gloves, hand sanitizer, CPR mask, safety glasses, and a surgical mask for beach goers who are pulled from the water.
The state's parks department has even more guidelines and restrictions related to the pandemic, many of which can be found by clicking here.
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