City may seal off city beaches if Memorial Day crowds get too large

School safety officers will be patrolling the beach entrances with NYPD officers and park workers.
Photo by Todd Maisel

The Parks Department may seal off the entrances to the city’s beaches with temporary fences if Memorial Day crowds get too large, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday morning. 

“It’s okay for people to walk along the beach or just take in the open space,” said de Blasio, adding that the city is prepared to close off the entry points if needed. “We don’t want to see it happen, but we are prepared to take tougher measures,” he said.

The city will enforce social distancing at the beaches and will prohibit swimming, since there will be no lifeguards on duty, de Blasio noted.

Park employees, who were already assessing plans to erect fences at all entry points in Coney Island on Monday morning, said that fencing will allow them to control how many people enter the beach at any location. With temperatures expected to rise into the 70s, staffers said they don’t think many beachgoers will swim, but are concerned that people will gather in groups. 

A School Safety Officer distributes masks on the boardwalk on Monday morning.Photo by Todd Maisel

To enforce social distancing measures, the NYPD will boost the beach detail to 100 officers, authorities said, while a small group of School Safety Officers who will man the entrances of the Riegelmann Boardwalk.

The Parks Department will also deploy its own enforcement officers who will also distribute masks and will help oversee the beach entrances.

Some businesses have already re-opened in Coney Island, including food concessions at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, Nathan’s on the Boardwalk, and Ruby’s Bar and Grill. The manager at Tom’s of Coney Island said they plan to re-open their outdoor concession on Friday for the Memorial Day weekend.

This story first appeared on AMNY.com.

Update (Tuesday, 3:15 pm): A previous version of this article included a photo of fencing in Coney Island and stated that the fencing will be erected around the beach. It came to our attention that the photo did not depict fencing related to the city’s beach closure plan, so we have removed the photo and have updated the article to clarify that this fencing will only be installed at entry points if necessary. We regret the error.