Parks Department plans for beach fences should crowds grow too large

traffic safety
Will Coney Island become a series of fences? Park employees prepare to erect fences along the beach entrances to maintain social distancing and thwart the growth of beach crowds. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

The New York City Parks Department is planning to erect temporary fences at the entrances to Coney Island and Brighton Beach to control the size of crowds for the 3-day Memorial Day weekend after the mayor said the city would assure social distancing, prevent gathering and swimming.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the beaches would be closed completely should the crowds get too large to maintain social distancing and prevent gathering to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Park employees were already working on plans to erect fences at all entry points in Coney Island this morning with employees saying it would allow them the ability to control how many people actually enter the beach at any location. With temperatures expected to rise into the 70’s, Park employees say they don’t think people will seek to swim, but they are concerned that people set up too close to one another.

Park employees plan for fences at all beach entry points. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

In addition, NYPD officials now say that the beach detail will be boosted to 100 officers, backed by a small army of School Safety Officers who will man checkpoints and entry areas to the boardwalks of both Coney Island and the Rockaways to give out masks and advise visitors on social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In the past, police details were up to 150 officers.

The NYPD will also be backed by Parks PEP officers who will also distribute masks as they did this past weekend and park employees who will help man the beach entrances and advise visitors of the COVID-19 rules.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said in his Webex press conference this morning that the city would shut down the beach should crowds get out of hand. He said there should be no swimming because there are no lifeguards on duty and no gatherings. He said it’s “okay for people to walk along the beach or just take in the open space.”

“The initial work of putting fencing into position has begun – we have to have it ready,” said de Blasio this morning. “If you want to walk on the beach and enjoy the air, that’s okay, but no swimming, no parties, no sports – just take in the open space and then get back home. If after warnings we don’t see the right thing, we will be stricter.”

School safety officers will be manning the beach entrances with NYPD and park workers. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

He said they will cut off all entry points if needed, but “we don’t want to see it happen, but we are prepared to take tougher measures.”

Some businesses have already re-opened in Coney Island, including food concessions at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, Nathan’s on the Boardwalk, and Ruby’s. The manager at Toms of Coney Island said they plan to re-open their outdoor concession on Friday for the Memorial Day weekend.

A School Safety Officer distributes masks on the boardwalk Monday morning. (Photo by Todd Maisel)
Tom’s of Coney Island will open a concession on Friday after being closed during the pandemic. (Photo by Todd Maisel)