Long Island officials worried over possible wave of beachgoers for Memorial Day weekend
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has reaffirmed his decision to not open city beaches for Memorial Day weekend. But the decision is being met with criticism from officials in the tri-state area -- which is supposed to be functioning as a region for reopening.
State beaches are opening for the holiday weekend, and municipalities with beaches in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey have come up with plans to do the same.
Officials are concerned city residents will overcrowd beaches on Long Island as the temperatures continue to rise and people get frustrated staying inside.
Those concerns are shared by residents in Long Beach, who showed up hours before beach passes were being made available for purchase Monday out of fears there would be limited amounts available.
"It's a big problem, and I'm conflicted," said Michael Wachs. "It would be great if de Blasio opened the beaches—it would cause less traffic here at Long Beach I think, but can you keep everyone safe?"
State Sen. Todd Kaminsky has called on de Blasio to reconsider his decision, saying he's concerned that the already lower cap on beaches will fill rapidly, even without non-residents.
Nassau Executive Laura Curran says she's talked to de Blasio about city beaches.
"I respect his decision, I understand his decision and we are going to be ready. We are going to do everything that we can to make this safe and that it's orderly and that it is at 50%," says Curran.
The Long Beach boardwalk closed in March because people were not following social distancing guidelines. According to Long Beach resident William Doepper, it hasn't gotten much better since.
"I'm already seeing people hop over the fences, they don't even care if they are going to get hurt or whether someone with coronavirus touched the railings, they are not wearing masks, they aren't social distancing. It's really horrible."
Doepper said he hopes Long Beach police will put on extra patrols for Memorial Day weekend at beaches to help with the potential crowds and enforce social distancing.
Denise King had another idea. She thinks Long Beach should follow in the footsteps of places like Southampton that are limiting passes to residents and renters.
"I think residents should be able to buy the passes first," she said.
For anyone going to the beach Memorial Day weekend, residents of Long Beach said they hoped everyone would respect the rules so they don't see their beloved beach closed like the boardwalk.
Wachs added, "I think it's going to be on everyone. The beaches should be open and it should be on the people to remain safe."
Long Beach says it is concerned about New York City keeping its beaches closed, and adds it will make a decision on whether it will be opening its beaches by Wednesday.