Long Beach to close beach, boardwalk early following weekend of maskless partygoers
After a crowded and dangerous weekend in Long Beach, residents said they are welcoming new changes in hours and daily pass restrictions.
Kathy Butler added, "They have to do what's right. What's safe."
Starting Thursday, the beach will close at 8 p.m., and the boardwalk will close at 9 p.m. until further notice. Non-residents will only be able to obtain daily passes Monday through Thursday.
"They are literally almost on top of each other from the boardwalk here right to the water," exclaimed longtime Long Beach resident Pete Stemkowski. "It's the busiest in all the years I've been here in Long Beach. I've never seen the beach this crowded as it was on the weekend."
He and his daughter Lisa said even before 17 after-hours rescues in the water, things were already bad on land this weekend. As visitors worried they'd close entrances because the sand was so packed with people, they tried to get residents to help them secure a spot for their blankets.
Stemkowski said, "There were actually people paying $20 to get on the beach."
Night on the beach and boardwalk was another story.
A gathering of 700 people was broken up by authorities. The attendees were mostly young people not wearing masks or social distancing. Video caught the attention of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
He said at his Monday press conference, "Don't be stupid. What they're doing is stupid and reckless."
"It's a problem in New York City, it's a problem in places on Long Island, it's a problem in places upstate, you know very well where the congregations were, because God bless social media," he added.
Residents don't want to see their boardwalk closed in it's entirely again, and are hoping these smaller changes will make a big difference.
Lisa Stemkowski shared, "I think people are a little anxious to get back to normal life but they have to remain cautious and aware that this is a very serious virus and we have to keep our residents safe."
Police say they will enforce social distancing and the 50% capacity. The two new mandates go into effect on Thursday.
The commissioner also says people who do not comply could be issued a summons. The maximum fine is $500.