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South Shore Senators ask Cuomo to form task force to plan re-opening of beaches

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With the number of coronavirus cases falling daily, a group of New York State Senators Thursday asked Gov. Andrew Cuomo to establish a task force to come up with ways to re-open beaches on Nassau County's South Shore.

Sen. Todd Kaminsky, a Long Beach Democrat, joined a bipartisan group of nine senators in asking Cuomo to establish "an inter-jurisdictional task force to coordinate and execute the safe re-opening of the beaches."

The South Shore beaches have been closed since Cuomo issued a Pause Order in late March, shutting down most businesses, and public places in an effort to slow down the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

John McNally, executive assistant to Long Beach City Manager, said Thursday morning that beach in the city is officially closed but that Long Beach is not restricting access. The boardwalk was closed at the end of March when, city officials said, people continued to congregate there, ignoring requests to maintain social distancing.

The state senators said that with the number of Covid-19 cases declining, "we should now plan how to safely open our beaches to give New Yorkers a safe space to relax and play."

A number of businesses in Long Beach, restaurants, bars, and surf shops, depend heavily on the beach season for their revenue. The Long Beach Chamber of Commerce met earlier this week to discuss ways of re-opening the city. Some of their ideas included events surrounding the boardwalk and the beach.

But Long Beach officials say when there is a re-opening of businesses, construction firms, manufacturers and curb-side restaurant services will be given the green light first. Restaurants and food services will come later.

A Cuomo spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment.

The group of senators stressed the need for caution, such as limiting physical interactions and protecting lifeguards and first-responders.

In their letter, the senators said "With so many beachfront municipalities reliant on a successful summer season to bolster the economy and keep local businesses afloat, the need to implement a comprehensive strategy on re-opening is critical."

Kaminsky said in a phone interview Thursday morning that it is not too soon to talk about be reopening beaches.

"No one is saying open them now," Kaminsky said. "But we need to be ready when summer hits. We need to be safe. Summer is right around the corner., What I'm afraid of is we get a hot weekend and thousands of people go to the beach and we have no plan."