Just one day after Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that 10 playgrounds across the city were closed because of overcrowding issues, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday that all NYC playgrounds would be closed, seemingly going over the mayor’s head. The governor did note that parks and other open spaces will remain open, though, he said, “The NYPD has to get more aggressive. Period,” referring to social distancing requirements.
On Tuesday, the city shut down the following sites: Mauro Playground in Queens, two playgrounds at Clove Lakes Park on Staten Island, Middleton Playground, two at Fort Greene Park, and Brighton Playground in Brooklyn, Watson Gleason Playground in the Bronx, and Jacob Javits Playground and Raoul Wallenberg Playground in Manhattan. Despite orders to avoid crowded spaces during the coronavirus outbreak, the city said they found “a lack of regard for social distancing” at these playgrounds, according to mayoral spokesperson Freddi Goldstein.
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson has called on the de Blasio administration to close all playgrounds. In an interview last week with Fox 5’s “Good Day New York” Johnson said the playgrounds should close in order to protect families, the Daily News reported. “My fear is that even though we’re not seeing acute infections that are really hurting children, children, we know, can be carriers who can spread to each other and then go home and give it to their parents and grandparents,” he said.
The playground closures come nearly two weeks after Gov. Andrew Cuomo released his 10-point “pause” policy and closed all non-essential businesses in the city. While parks will remain open throughout the outbreak, the governor last weekend said he was concerned with the overcrowding in city parks after visiting places like Central Park and Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza.
At the request of Cuomo, de Blasio and Johnson came up with a pilot plan to give New Yorkers more open space by closing a six-block stretch of street in each borough. The mayor’s office announced on Tuesday plans to extend the pilot program at the existing locations through April 5.
“The courts will still be there for folks who want to do any other kind of recreation and we’ll be enforcing that,” de Blasio said on Friday. “But there will not be any basketball games because there will not be any basketball hoops.”
In a joint statement released on Wednesday, Danny Harris, the president of Transportation Alternatives, and Jon Orcutt, the director of communications for Bike New York, are asking the city to create more public space that still allows for social distancing. “With the closure of 2,067 playgrounds, every neighborhood in the city is losing critical open space. We call on Mayor de Blasio to create an immediate, city-wide expansion of the open streets pilot he launched last week,” Harris and Orcutt said.
“Just as every family in New York deserves access to a nearby playground in ordinary times, this crisis demands rapid action to create an extensive network of emergency open streets, accessible to more New Yorkers.”
- NYC removed 80 basketball hoops from parks
- Governor Cuomo says NYC must develop an immediate plan to address density issues in parks
- De Blasio will close one 6-block stretch in each borough for pedestrians
Editor’s note: This post was originally published on March 31, 2020, but has been updated with new information.