NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Cuts to the city’s budget and safety concerns will make summer much different in the city this year.
The official first day of summer is just over two months away, the anticipated relief from oppressive heat may never come, all because of social distancing.
“We can’t plan on summer right now. It’s the simplest way to say it,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday. “The things that would have required spending money now to get ready for the summer, we’re just not doing because we don’t have yet a clear roadmap to how we get to those summer activities.”
As it stands now, the usual long lines won’t form this year to get into outdoor pools. The much-needed joyful outlet, especially in the hardest hit COVID-19 areas, will remain locked – the silence, defeaning.
Today, de Blasio nixed plans to reopen them, as he laid out a rather grim budget proposal that included widespread cuts amid the coronavirus outbreak.
- Resources, Hotlines, Unemployment & Covering Bills
- Remote Learning Tools For Parents Teaching At Home
- Ask Dr. Max Your Health Questions
- How Make Your Own DIY Face Mask
- How To Safely Remove Disposable Gloves
- Tips For Parents To Help Kids Cope
- Complete Coronavirus Coverage
The move saves the city $12 million, and costs jobs, including the coveted seasonal employment of young lifeguards.
“Every one of us would love to have our summer, or some part of our summer, but keep expectations low for now. Let’s not have any false moves, let’s not jump the gun, let’s make sure we get it right,” he said.
The mayor says it’s all being done in the interest of safety, as current circumstances indicate COVID-19 has not loosened much of its devastating grip.
The mayor said he wants to lower expectations, “just for everyone’s sanity.”
“We’re at a point right now where we’re in the middle of April, we’re practicing social distancing, everyone’s being very careful to only go outside as much as they need to just to get basics and get back inside,” he said. “To go from that to mass gatherings of thousands or tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people, that’s a big jump.
“That jump should only happen when we’re sure it’s not going to exacerbate the disease,” he added. “Because, again, the worst of all worlds would be to see a resurgence.”
CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
In a statement, Astoria councilman Costa Constantinides agreed with the decision, but said “the city must come up with a plan to provide our youngest New Yorkers with quality programming that keeps them safe, engaged, and healthy.”
Now that pools are closed, many will head to the beaches. But the mayor says, not so fast. Those may remain closed too.
“Coney Island. At Coney Island, on that beach, many times, hundreds of thousands of people packed tightly together like, I don’t see that happening anytime soon,” de Blasio said. “Obviously, you can have a situation where people can go to the beach to walk along the beach, but not in large numbers any time soon. We still have to observe social distancing, people are doing that now. But the notion of having lifeguards and people coming to the beach like normal, we don’t have that in sights yet.”
For now, observing social distancing, like some CBS2 found at Rockaway Beach, is still permitted. But defying orders and going swimming without a lifeguard on duty is discouraged, and has lead to numerous drownings over the year.
Still, it’s unclear how a closure would be enforced.
The mayor says he will re-evaluate these decision if somehow the spread of the coronavirus drastically slows, but for now, he’s setting his sights on reopening schools in September.
For the rest of us, just like the pools, hopes for the summer are drying up.
De Blasio reported another “tough day,” with the number of hospitalizations, the number of patients in intensive care units and the percentage of positive test results all on the rise.
Three key indicators:
- Hospitalizations: 386, up from 370 on 4/13
- ICU patients: 887, up from 868
- Positive test results: 55%, up from 53%
“I need to see those indicators start to move to even talk about some loosening of restrictions, and they have not been moving yet,” he said.
PHOTO GALLERY: A Look Inside NYC’s Viral ‘Warzone’
The mayor added the city is taking a “cautious approach” focused on “beating back the disease.”
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)