March 23, 2020 By Christian Murray
New York State has closed all the playgrounds, athletic courts and sports fields that it administers in Long Island City.
The state, which manages Gantry Plaza State Park and a number of courts and playgrounds in Hunters Point, has shut down these facilities like it has done so across the entire state.
The basketball courts on 48th Avenue by Vernon Boulevard have been closed, as well as the adjacent tot lot. The athletic field on 5th Street has been closed as well as Rainbow Playground, which is within Gantry Plaza State Park. The park, however, remains open.
The state made the announcement over the weekend and the areas have been shut since Saturday. “For the safety of all visitors and to stop the spread of COVID-19, all State Park playgrounds, athletic courts and sporting fields are CLOSED,” the state said.
The policy is different than that of New York City, which oversees Hunters Point South Park. The playground in Hunters Point South Park remains open as well as the basketball courts. However, the city notes that the basketball courts are “closed to group play.”
The Mayor and the governor are yet to be on the same page as to how to manage social distancing at parks.
The mayor wants to keep the playgrounds and courts open and has asked parents to be responsible for their children. He noted that the playgrounds are not being cleaned and for parents to be mindful of that.
“We believe it’s a good outlet for kids who only get a short period of exercise each day,” the mayor said. But he warned: “If we feel that they are not being handled properly, if we feel that people are taking advantage in the wrong way of the situation or are not paying attention to the rules … we’ll have to, at that point, strongly consider shutting them down.”
He noted that the NYPD will be monitoring city parks starting today. “If they see anything that looks like even the beginning of a gathering, they are gonna say break it up, they are gonna say you have to say get your quick exercise and get home,” De Blasio said.
The announcement came after Gov. Andrew Cuomo chided the city for not taking social distancing seriously.
He said he saw kids playing basketball on Saturday, and argued that there is “no concept of social distancing while playing basketball. It doesn’t exist. You cannot stay six feet away from another person playing basketball.”
During his daily coronavirus briefing on Sunday, Cuomo said that he was giving de Blasio and the City Council 24 hours to come up with a plan to correct the situation at city parks.