Photo of Sheep Meadow on May 4, 2020 © 6sqft
Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday said police will limit access to parts of some parks, as well as deploy additional Parks Department officials to patrol city beaches this weekend, with temperatures expected to be in the 70s. The NYPD will restrict the number of people allowed to enter the Sheep Meadow lawn in Central Park to avoid overcrowding and curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. And police will again limit access to Piers 45 and 46 at Hudson River Park in the West Village and monitor crowds at Domino Park in Williamsburg for the second weekend in a row.
The increased patrolling of these parks was first announced by de Blasio last Friday after pictures of crowds went viral on social media the weekend prior. If the parks become too crowded, NYPD will prevent entry and some parkgoers may have to wait to get in as crowds disperse. Police could also limit the time visitors can spend there.
There will also be enhanced patrolling from Parks Department employees in the Rockaways, Coney Island, and Orchard Beach, according to the mayor. Nearly 2,300 “social distancing ambassadors” will be stationed at public spaces to remind people to remain six feet from others and to hand out free face coverings.
The mayor on Friday also said the police will no longer arrest people who are not wearing masks, “absent a serious danger to the public.” The new policy comes after a video was released this week that showed police officers arresting a woman in the subway for refusing to wear a mask.
The NYPD will now focus more on breaking up groups of six or more adults. “We want to make this a positive approach. We do not want to revive the mistakes of the past. We think we can strike a balance,” de Blasio said on Friday. “When someone says, ‘I don’t have a face covering with me’ we want NYPD officers and all these other civilian ambassadors and everyone else to be there with a solution.”
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