NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Gov. Andrew Cuomo is demanding changes be made because parts of New York City appeared to be behaving as though nothing unusual was going on despite the coronavirus pandemic.
“I was in New York City yesterday. It was a pretty day. There is a density level in New York City that is wholly inappropriate. You would think there was nothing going on in parts of New York City. You would think it was just a bright, sunny Saturday. I don’t know what I’m saying that people don’t get,” Cuomo said. “I don’t know what they’re not understanding. This is not life as usual. None of this is life as usual. And this kind of density – we talk about social distancing – I was in these parks, you would not know that anything was going on. This is just a mistake. It’s a mistake. It’s insensitive. It’s arrogant. It’s self destructive. It’s disrespectful to other people. It has to stop and it has to stop now. This is not a joke and I am not kidding.”
Cuomo said he spoke with Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and said New York City has to come up with an immediate plan to prevent overcrowding at parks in 24 hours. Cuomo called on city leaders to open streets and to prevent groups from gathering in parks.
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Cuomo said the matter is a “serious problem.”
De Blasio said he was “fully aligned” with Cuomo about the issue and that the city was going to roll out a new set of rule to be tested for the next week.
“You can go to the park, but only for a limited time. Families can stay together, but don’t mix with other families. If you’re going on your own, stay on your own, keep six feet apart from everyone else. Go, get your exercise, get home,” de Blasio said.
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If police or parks enforcement see playgrounds filling up, they will clear them out, de Blasio said.
“If you go to the playground, you need to keep your children away from children who are not part of your family. That’s your responsibility,” de Blasio said. “You have to take responsibility. If you don’t feel you can do it, don’t go to the playground.”
Playgrounds will not be cleaned and sanitized, he said.
“They never have been. They can’t be in this situation. It would take a Herculean effort every five minutes literally that we simply can’t do,” de Blasio said. “If your kids go to the playground, you might want them to not be on certain types of equipment, or any type of equipment. You might say ‘I don’t want to go to the playground, I just want my kids to run around in an open area.’ You, parents, have to make that decision.”
Playgrounds will remain open, but monitored and social distancing enforced.
“If we feel that they’re not being handled properly, if we feel that people are taking advantage the wrong way of the situation, are not paying attention to the rules or it’s creating something that’s just not supportable, we’ll have to at that point strongly consider shutting them down. That’s not something I want to do. I really don’t want to do that,” de Blasio said. “So we’re going to see how this week goes.”