NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York’s top doctor announced Friday he is not allowing overnight camps to open this summer, but parents argue having their kids stay at home is far less safe.

Disappointment echoed through many New York neighborhoods Friday night.

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Orthodox Jewish children in Borough Park reacted to the sad news about their summer.

“I like to go on trips and everything, and spend time with friends,” one young girl told CBS2’s Christina Fan.

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker made the announcement Friday afternoon, attributing the decision to COVID-19. He said it’s too risky to have children in close quarters.

But parents say the true risk is leaving them unsupervised this summer.

“You see all these kids? They’re all going to play together on the streets all summer long. How are they more protected by playing on the dirty streets here than being in a camp with clean, crispy, fresh air?” Ezra Friedlander, of Borough Park, said.


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Unlike day camps, which can open June 29, the health commissioner said that overnight camps “have congregate settings and sleeping arrangements in close quarters that present too many risks.”

But Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein disagrees, saying camp directors have accounted for those issues.

“Camp would have been basically on a lockdown. Even the deliveries would come to the gate, the delivery could not enter the actual camp campus,” he said.

Besides hanging out with friends, parents say camps are important for childhood development.

“I can’t keep my kids cooped up on the sixth floor during the summer months, it’s just not feasible,” Friedlander said.

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Now thousands of parents across the state suddenly have to find new summer plans for their kids.