By Scott Brinton, Jim Bernstein, Karen Bloom and Melissa Koenig
Beaches on Long Island will open for the summer on Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on May 15 to mixed reactions.
Some Franklin Square residents said they would be willing to go to the beach while everything else remains in lockdown. Carianne Wolanin Dempsey, of Franklin Square, said her children could not wait to go to the beach, and Susan Irene said she would go to the beaches if pools remain closed.
Kim Schutz also said she had already visited Jones Beach and saw that everyone there was practicing social distancing. “We all want to open again and get back to some normalcy,” she wrote in response to a Herald inquiry on social media. “I think people will comply.”
Still others remained wary about reopening the beaches. Monica Stauffiger said that even with officials trying to maintain half-capacity, “no one is going to follow the guidelines,” and Eileen Harney Flood called the decision “a nightmare for Long Island” as New York City residents may flock to the beaches.
Under Cuomo’s proclamation, local towns and cities can decide to extend the order barring access to beaches beyond that date, if they deem it necessary.
The reopening of beaches will take place in tandem with New Jersey, Delaware and Connecticut, which has already reopened certain of its beaches.
The new order came one day after a bipartisan group of state senators called on the governor to create a plan for safe reopening of the beaches.
Sen. Todd Kaminsky, a Long Beach Democrat, joined the nine senators in asking Cuomo to establish “an inter-jurisdictional task force to coordinate and execute” beach reopenings.
Nassau County beaches have been closed since Cuomo issued the first New York Pause order in late March, shutting down most businesses and public places in an effort to slow down the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
On Thursday night, the governor continued the New York Pause order through May 28, with the option and ability to extend enforcement of the order through June 13. The order applies to five of the state’s 10 regions, including Long Island and New York City.
On May 1, 13 town supervisors from across Long Island gathered to begin developing plans to open their recreational facilities, including beaches.
“The theme of our discussion was that the Covid-19 pandemic does not follow town borders, and it’s necessary to collaborate on our best practices and strategies for summer programs and services,” Hempstead Town Supervisor Donald Clavin said. “Working together as a team and maintaining communication will be key to providing the safest environment.”