NYC Playgrounds Will Close : Governor Andrew Cuomo
Evening of April 1 Update: Mayor de Blasio held a press conference within which he was asked a question related to the core of this page’s subject.
Question: Hi. So, on playgrounds – 24 hours ago, a little over 24 hours ago, you said that there was largely compliance in terms of social distancing on playgrounds and your goal was to try to preserve as many as possible if people follow the rules. So, what changed to lead you to agree with the Governor’s decision to shut them down? And what would you say to critics who claim playgrounds are the latest example of you delaying tough decisions and leaving them up to the Governor?
Mayor: Well, Julia, look, first of all, we’re all working together. The Governor and I have agreed overwhelmingly throughout this crisis. The strategic direction is something we have constantly consulted on. Our teams talk about all the time. We’ve just agreed almost without exception on the major things we’ve had to do. There were definitely moments where there were slight differences. I mean, obviously I wanted to see shelter in place. You know, the Governor and I talked about that. We talked about closing schools and we’re always trying to make sense of the different things we were seeing. We’ve talked about the parks issue. But in every case, it was collegial Julia, that comparing notes, our teams comparing notes. No one takes lightly these decisions. None of them are easy, none of them are or anything you wish on people. But what has been a real agreement that we’re going to work together. And we talked several times last week about the playgrounds and agreed that we would, you know, try and give it a few more days. We got to Saturday, we still wanted to give it a few more days to see. But in the last 24 hours, as you know, I decided it was time to implement fines over the weekend. We’ve been stepping up enforcement. You know, yesterday we announced the particular playgrounds that needed to be closed. Previously we have started to take down basketball rims. But you know, the Governor got to a point where he really thought it was an abundance of caution issue, that to go ahead and move across the board in terms of the playgrounds. And I respect that and I’m going to work with him. The truth that I said is true. We did not see a lot of noncompliance. Commissioner Shea and I talked about it not only daily, multiple times a day. We didn’t see a lot of noncompliance. But I do appreciate that the Governor at this point thought, you know, this is a good one to take an abundance of caution and I respect that. And, again, we’re always going to seek that consensus. I hope when this crisis starts to abate, that one of the very first things we can reopen is playgrounds. But that’s obviously a way in the future.
Today, Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo announced that all of NYC’s playgrounds would be closed do to the lack of adherence to the social distancing rules set forth some time ago.
The parks, streets and especially the playgrounds have been subjects of contention recently in New York City amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic. Mayor Bill de Blasio has touched on the subject repeatedly over the past week or so. He’s stated how much it pains him to even consider having to close the city’s playgrounds but that it would be necessary to so if need be.
Yesterday the Mayor spoke of how 10 playgrounds would be closed and what was on the horizon in terms of the others’ continued openings.
Mayor de Blasio’s words yesterday:
“On playgrounds, I have been talking daily, in fact multiple times a day with Police Commissioner Dermot Shea and to get feedback from his enforcement efforts, obviously from Parks Department as well. Overwhelmingly, we’re seeing compliance in parks and playgrounds with some real problem spots too. So, I’ve been very clear, if we see a problem spot that’s recurrent, we are going to shut it down. I have ordered 10 playgrounds to be closed at the end of today. Those are playgrounds that have had crowding multiple times. They will be shut down. They will be locked. There will be signs put up; there will be enforcement. My goal again is to try to preserve as many as possible if people follow the rules and if people will not follow the rules, we will continue to shut them down aggressively.”
The following would be the Governor’s statement today followed by the related video furnished by the Governor’s Office.
“My favorite topic – young people must get this message. And they still have not gotten the message. You still see too many situations with too much density by young people. They can get it. They’re putting their lives at risk. This can kill young people. Rare circumstances, but it can. But you get infected, you give it to someone else. So think about somebody else. And I’ve said this 100 different ways. The compliance is still not where it should be. You saw the models on the differential in the compliance versus major compliance and minor compliance. So we’re going to take more dramatic actions.”
“We are going to close down the New York City playgrounds. I’ve talked about this for weeks. I warned people that if they didn’t stop the density and the games in the playgrounds – you can’t play basketball; you can’t come in contact with each other – that we would close the playgrounds. I spoke to Speaker Johnson from New York City, who feels very strongly about this and did from day one. We agreed initially with the mayor that we would try compliance and the mayor was going to try to use the NYPD to enforce compliance, social distancing in playgrounds. It is still a problem. We’re working with the speaker; we’re working with the mayor, but we’re going to close down the city playgrounds and leave the open spaces available. So use the open space in a park, walk around, get some sun – great. No density, no basketball games, no close contact, no violation of social distancing, period. That’s the rule.”