Gounardes, Brannan want mayor to reopen playgrounds
On Wednesday, State Senator Andrew Gounardes and City Councilmember Justin Brannan called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to immediately open playgrounds, dog runs, and ballfields as the city approaches Phase 2 following the COVID-19 pandemic
De Blasio has been cautious about saying when Phase 2 would begin. Governor Andrew Cuomo confirmed it will be on Monday, June 22.
“The mayor cannot cancel summer,” said Brannan. “We have been repeatedly calling for clearer guidance from Albany and from City Hall with regard to our playgrounds and parks. Most epidemiologists agree that outdoor activity, when conducted with masks on and among sanitized equipment, is a relatively safe option for New Yorkers.
“Now, with summer upon us, and parents restless to get their kids outdoors and active, we need to provide safe options to exercise, play and get fresh air. Dog runs, courts and ballfields should all be reopened immediately as well.”
The officials are also pushing for de Blasio to ensure that the Parks Department keeps playground equipment clean and sanitized, stocking park spaces with hand sanitizer and hand-washing stations. In addition, they want Parks to provide masks on-site as a requirement.
“Families have been put through the wringer these past few months, and it’s time to give them opportunities to safely spend time outside the home,” said Gounardes. “Our parks serve as summer camps for so many kids. Keeping playgrounds and ballfields closed, when they can be opened safely, will add even more stress onto families who have endured four long months of virtual schooling and working from home while unexpectedly caring for their children. We need to lighten the load for families, now.”
De Blasio explained his caution on Wednesday.
“The second we open up playgrounds, I think it’s a safe bet they’ll be filled, you know, 10 hours or more a day, every day,” he said. “The number of people, and remember how many hundreds upon hundreds of playgrounds we’re talking about all over New York City, talking about a huge number of people concentrated every single day.
“If the indicators get us to Phase 2 and we are paying special attention to what the results of Phase 1 have been in terms of healthcare, what the results of the protests have been. We get to the point working with the state where we say we’re all clear for Phase 2, that’s a natural time to start acting on playgrounds.”
De Blasio also said the city will look at each area differently and explained the complex nature of reopening playgrounds.
“A playground for little kids is different than a soccer field,” he said. “The ways that people interact and what we’ve seen about the trajectory of the disease is different with adults and kids. So we’re going to have to make each decision carefully, but we’re going to make these decisions in the context of Phase 2 . But first we have to be 100 percent secure we’re getting to Phase 2.”
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