NYU Sending Public Health Ambassadors To Hand Out Masks Outside Park

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police kept an eye on Washington Square Park on Saturday night after big crowds gathered there Friday.

People partied for the second weekend in a row, and many seemed unconcerned about spreading the coronavirus.

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A night of dancing, partying and having non-socially distanced fun at Washington Square Park was brought to an end by police just after midnight Saturday morning.

Video shows a patrol officer saying, “The time is now 1:35 a.m. Washington Square Park is now closed. Make your way to an exit.”

But less than 24 hours after the barricades were placed, a similar gathering reappeared.

Police kept an eye on Washington Square Park on Sept. 12, 2020, after crowds continued to gather there. (Credit: CBS2)

Larissa Vassallo told CBS2’s Cory James the gathering was not a party but a celebratory Black Lives Matter protest.

“Rejoicing is a part of protest as well,” she said. “We start oftentimes early, early in the morning, and then we come here to enjoy each other and love each other.”

Last Sunday, CBS2 reported on another gathering at Washington Square Park where face coverings were not worn while people of all ages bounced together to the beat of music.

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Nearby NYU says it is aware of what’s happening in the park and, even though it is off-campus, they have sent warnings out to students about non-socially distant gatherings.

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So far, the university says it has suspended more than 30 students for disobeying social distancing rules.

“People are obviously starved for entertainment,” one man said.

NYU is stepping in to assist by sending “public health ambassadors” outside the park entrances to hand out masks.

Some students support that and the disciplinary actions school officials are taking.

“I think people are a lot more cautious,” NYU freshman Haddar Kaplum said.

“We did sign a contract, coming back to school, saying if we broke the rules, we’d get suspended and not get our tuition back. I think it’s fair,” NYU freshman Megan Trout said.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

NYPD officers were also present Saturday along with park enforcement patrol officers, both groups monitoring the crowd from afar while people nearby watched the excitement unfold.

“It does not seem scary. When I first got here, I felt a little tense, but right away, I realized it was quite peaceful and I feel totally relaxed,” Queens resident Joan Delisio said.

CBS2 reached out to the governor and mayor about the large gatherings, but so far, we have not gotten a response.

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