COVID-19: NYC Quote of the Day 2020-05-25

Friday, May 22, 2020, NYC Mayor de Blasio on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show - Beaches: Keep Life Local

Lehrer: State Senators from Long Island and the Jersey Shore, their beaches are generally more open, the cities are closed to swimming, so they don't want city residents creating crowds at some of the local town beaches on Long Island, I know that's been a controversy. Senator Kaminsky said he would have preferred that there just be a region wide approach. There are plenty of COVID cases in Nassau County as well. Why didn't the city take a consistent and integrated approach?

Mayor: I know Senator Kaminsky and I respect him. We just don't resemble the reality of Long Island in terms of how we're built. There's 8.6 million people in a very small space, most of whom don't have cars. Most Long Island residents use their cars to get to the beaches. Most New York City residents go by subway or bus which is a problem in and of itself. I've had this conversation with the Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and I think she understands and we've talked about the fact we just have two different realities. I totally respect her decision and she respects mine because we're dealing with two different realities.

I'm making my decisions based on health and safety. It is not safe to do what happened in Florida, in California, where they prematurely opened up beaches, they had vast crowds just like normal. We're not doing that. That's not safe. If folks in Long Island or New Jersey think they can keep it safe because people get there by car, they have a lot of space to spread out, great.

Lehrer: He thought you sowed confusion by objecting so strenuously to some of the local town beaches closing to New York City residents like Long Beach and Hampstead Beach and didn't communicate clearly enough that the big public beaches where most New York City residents go when they go to Long Island beaches, specifically Jones Beach and Robert Moses State Park, are actually open to city residents. And that should allay most of the concern for you and city residents. What's your response to that?

Mayor: I think there's a misestimation of what I said. I tried to make clear why we were doing what we had to do to protect our people in the five boroughs with our beaches. And I said that it was important in any discussion to just be respectful of each other. We're all in this metropolitan area together. All I talked about was respect for people, but I also respect the decisions that the folks on Long Island are making to try and protect their people and do what works for them. I think people in general at this point in time are best served just keeping life local, keeping life in your own neighborhood to the maximum extent possible. We're not going to be able to live exactly the way we live for a while, but this too shall pass, but right now the singular focus should be on health and safety.

Lehrer: As far as the city beaches, you said this week, "It's just not time for beaches yet. If people want to take a beach chair and sit on the beach, fine. If it starts to seem like a typical summer beach scene, that's what we won't allow." There's been some commentary that that's a mixed message. Can you clarify that?

Mayor: I don't think there's that mixed message in the least. I couldn't have been clearer with people, you can't swim, there are not lifeguards on duty, and then all of the things in the State guidance. There's no sports, there's no barbecuing, there's no concessions, it's a different reality. But for folks who particularly live in those neighborhoods, and there's hundreds of thousands of people that are pretty close to our beaches in New York City, if they want to walk on the boardwalk, walk on the sand, you know, sit down in a beach chair, that's fine, but they have to observe social distancing, and if they're going for any reason be close to other people, they need to have a face covering on. Parks Department will be out there, NYPD will be out there, watching carefully, making sure everything's okay. It's not business as usual. It is a modified, lesser version of what we would normally do because we cannot allow to have happened what happened in Florida and California.
Edited for redundancy, grammar, and emphasis
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