NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – With it feeling like summertime, many people are relieved to hear that city beaches will soon be open for swimming.
And that’s not all that’s being done to keep New Yorkers cool.
All city beaches will get lifeguards and swimming just in time for Independence Day weekend, and the scorching days ahead.
Wednesday was a midweek beach day spent lounging in the sand and strolling the promenade on Orcard Beach in the Bronx, but an activity conspicuously absent is swimming, reported CBS2’s Dave Carlin.
The citywide ban is about to end on July 1.
WATCH: Mayor De Blasio Discusses Plan To Reopen City Beaches
“It will be a great day for New York City – another part of our comeback – to have our beaches up again. And it’s going to be a great opportunity for people to stay cool,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.
Regular Bronx beachgoer Patricia Antonetty says it’s about time.
“As long as they keep the protocols of safety… and the distancing, and the lifeguards. Absolutely we need them,” she said.
“Let’s keep in mind we’ve got to do this the right way,” de Blasio said.
Safety first, the mayor said – only swim when a lifeguard is on duty, plus practice social distancing, wear face coverings, and no barbecues or grilling.
Social distancing is encouraged by Parks ambassadors, who hand out masks at places like Coney Island’s boardwalk.
“It’s a huge open space,” said Ilene Coopersmith. “It’s much better than crowding in parks in the city.”
She explained why she thinks a beach can be one of the safer places to go these days.
“If you have a release with the water, then there will be less crowding on the beach,” she said.
The mayor also announced that, effective immediately, the city powers on sprinklers, sprayers and misting machines. There are close to 1,000 of them, with 250 new ones added.
Also to help New York City cool it are spray caps on hydrants all over the place.
Low-income seniors are getting free air conditioning units. More than 37,000 of them are being installed at a rate of 1,500 per day.
To cool it in New York City means you can frolic, let down your hair – just don’t let down your guard.
People could walk or hang out along the 14 miles of public beaches, but they weren’t allowed to swim.
Some New Yorkers flocked to Long Island, state or county beaches. However, many towns restricted access to residents only.
So people like Sue Weisnefeld are eager for the city beaches to fully reopen.
“This is Coney Island. This is New York City’s beach,” she told CBS2’s John Dias. “A lot of people can’t get there to Long Island. It’s a long walk. The boardwalk is good, but it’s not that far.”
Some say they’re worried about another spike in COVID-19.
“They’re not going to get social distancing out here on the beach, they’re not. Not even on the boardwalk. There’s no way,” said Michael Washington.
Others say reopening the beaches may help.
“I think the beach is one of the safest places for us to be, as long as we’re responsible,” another person added.
Many businesses along the Coney Island boardwalk have only reopened their doors on the weekends. That too may change once more people start heading back to the beach.