Memorial Day weekend is here, but it’s one that’s unlike anything we’ve experienced in our lifetime. The coronavirus pandemic leading to restrictions at beaches and parade cancellations across the city, state, country and world, as officials try to make sure people stay safe if they choose to go to the city’s public spaces.
Deciphering what’s open and what’s not in New York City this weekend can be confusing, so we’ve created a guide to explain what the rules are.
Beaches are open this weekend–but not without rules and restrictions.
The sand will be open for sunbathing at city-run beaches, including Coney Island in Brooklyn, Rockaway Beach in Queens, and Orchard Beach in The Bronx. There will be no lifeguards on duty, so the water will be closed to swimming. Those looking to enjoy the ocean can only do so ankle-deep, though an NYPD official said on Thursday that surfing will be permitted.
The beaches will be kept at 50 percent capacity, and rules will be enforced by an increased NYPD beach patrol presence.
Walking along the beach is OK, but gatherings such as barbecues are not allowed. Food concessions will be allowed to open for takeout only.
Sunbathers at city beaches will have to adhere to social distancing rules.
National Park Beaches
At Gateway National Park in Queens, Riis Beach will be open for “limited recreational access” with no lifeguards on duty and, therefore, no swimming. Picnic areas and playgrounds will be closed, and no barbecues will be allowed. People can spend time on the beach, as long as masks are worn. The beach will be kept at 50 percent capacity, and hours and parking will be cut back. The same rules apply at Fort Tilden Beach in Queens.
Great Kills Park Beach on Staten Island is accessible for passive recreational activities, such as walking and running. The water will be closed to swimming and bathing, as lifeguards will not be on duty for Memorial Day weekend.
State beaches will also be open to the public this Memorial Day weekend. Lifeguards will be on duty, and swimming will be allowed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Jones Beach at Robert Moses Park on Long Island, but both will also operate at 50 percent capacity. There will be no group activities or sports. Areas of social gathering such as picnic areas and playgrounds will be closed. There will also be no concessions. Face coverings are required when social distancing is not possible.
County and locally run beaches on Long Island will only be open to local residents.
PARKS AND OPEN STREETS
For those planning on a Memorial Day Weekend picnic, parks around the city will remain open. Park visitors will be expected to practice social distancing by staying six feet apart and wearing face coverings.
To help people give each other space, white circles spaced six feet apart have been painted in several parks. Police will be active in 230 parks across the city.
To allow for even more space, the Open Streets program will be expanding to another 13 miles of roads starting on Saturday, for a total of 45 miles of open streets.
MEMORIAL DAY ACTIVITIES
The coronavirus pandemic will not be stopping the Intrepid Museum from presenting its annual Memorial Day commemoration–though it will take place online this year through a virtual ceremony honoring the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the United States Armed Forces. It will include a traditional wreath laying. The live stream will take place on Memorial Day at 2 p.m. on their website.
Memorial Day parades across the city have been canceled due to the pandemic – including the Little Neck-Douglaston Parade, one of the biggest in the city, and the Brooklyn Memorial Day Parade, which would have marched for the 153rd time this year.
Governor Andrew Cuomo did say on Tuesday that gatherings of 10 and fewer people for Memorial Day ceremonies would be permitted. He also said car-only parades are permitted – and according to the Brooklyn Reporter, at least one such parade will take place in Bay Ridge, hosted by the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 72.