New York State’s beaches, including those at Westchester-operated Playland and Croton Point Park, will be open for Memorial Day weekend with social distancing protocols remaining in effect and restrictions on capacity and activities.
County Executive George Latimer made the announcement Monday, three days after Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave the green light for beaches statewide to open this Friday. The two Westchester beaches will operate for four days, he said.
“Whether we keep it open beyond Memorial Day weekend will depend on how well we manage the demand this weekend,” Latimer said.
Despite the Playland beach opening, Latimer said that the amusement park will remain closed at least through July 20. Under the state’s guidelines for reopening, recreational facilities are part of the fourth and final phase.
As of Monday, the Mid-Hudson region, which Westchester and Putnam Counties are a part of, have not met the standard for a Phase I reopening.
Cuomo said last Friday that with Connecticut never having closed its beaches and New Jersey officials announcing earlier last week that beaches along its shore communities will be open for the long holiday weekend, it made sense to follow suit and spread out the crowds in the tristate area.
“If New Jersey opens beaches or Connecticut opens beaches and we don’t open beaches, you would see a flood of people into Connecticut and New Jersey and our relationship and responsibility to our other neighboring states is important,” Cuomo said.
The state released a list of restrictions and protocols for the public as well as local and county governments to follow.
Crowds must be capped at 50 percent of capacity by monitoring all entrances and exits; no group contact activities such as football or volleyball; maintaining social distancing for employees and visitors; each employee and visitor must wear a mask if social distancing cannot be maintained; all areas of social gathering, including picnic areas and playgrounds and concession stands must remain closed; and adequate staffing levels must be in place.
County and municipal facilities must at least meet the restrictions imposed by the state but more stringent rules can be imposed. Latimer said that for Croton Point Park and Playland, the county would follow the state’s protocols. County and local officials can also choose to remain closed.
Glen Island Beach in New Rochelle will stay shuttered because it is being used as a drive-through testing facility.
Local officials must make their decision and publicly announce whether they will operate beaches in their jurisdiction no later than Wednesday in order to open by this weekend, Cuomo said.
He said the three states in the tristate area along with Delaware, which will also open beaches this weekend, will have similar restrictions.
In New York, if localities fail to comply with the state’s rules, the facilities will be shut down, the governor warned last week.
“If there is a problem and the locals do not enforce these regulations, we will close these beaches immediately,” Cuomo said.
Playland beach and the boardwalk have been open for walking since the onset of the state of emergency in March.
Latimer said that the Fourth of July fireworks display at Kensico Dam Plaza in Valhalla has been canceled for this year. The event takes place annually on the evening of July 3. The first seven of the county’s 12 ethnic festivals at Kensico through July 20 have also been called off.
Kensico Dam Plaza along with all of Westchester’s arks and four of the county’s six golf courses will continue to operate.
“We also know that the weather’s getting warmer, people want to be outside and going to a beach on Memorial Day weekend is very much who we are culturally,” Latimer said.
Restrictions were lifted statewide on a few low-risk activities last Friday, including landscaping and gardening businesses, drive-in movie theaters and certain non-contact recreation such as tennis.
Cuomo extended the NY PAUSE until May 28 and the state of emergency until June 13 for the regions that have not met all the thresholds for a Phase I reopening.
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/