April 6, 2020 By Allie Griffin
Governor Andrew Cuomo has increased the fine for violating the statewide social distancing order after officials witnessed crowding in city parks — including Astoria Park.
Cuomo is doubling the penalty in an effort to stop overcrowding that can spread the coronavirus, he announced in Albany today.
People who do not keep six feet apart from others while out in public can now be fined up to $1,000. The maximum penalty was previously set at $500.
“Frankly, there has been a laxness on social distancing especially over this past weekend that is just wholly unacceptable,” Cuomo said, using a photo of people at Astoria Park on Saturday as an example of noncompliance.
Astoria Park has been a trouble spot. Late last month, Council Member Costa Constantinides called on the Parks Department to heighten enforcement at the 60-acre park. He noted that he saw groups congregating close together on the weekend of March 21 and March 22.
At his daily coronavirus briefing, Cuomo said this past weekend wasn’t any better in terms of people adhering to social distancing guidelines. The nice weather brought more people into parks, especially in New York City.
“I understand people have been locked up for a long time, but now is not the time to be lax,” Cuomo said. “It is a mistake. We all have a responsibility, we all have a role in this.”
The governor said people have a societal obligation to stay home or keep six feet apart from others while in public.Gov.
If someone doesn’t abide by the rules and gets infected, they may infect others — putting more people at risk.
“If I can’t convince you to show discipline for yourself, then show discipline for other people,” he said. “If you get infected, you infect someone else, you go to an emergency room you put a burden on all sorts of other people you don’t know and frankly you don’t have the right to burden with your irresponsibility.”
Cuomo said he wants local governments to more aggressive in enforcing the social distancing rules.
“It’s not really about the fine, nobody wants the money,” he said. “We want the compliance. We are serious and again if it’s not about your life, you don’t have right to risk someone else’s life.”
In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio has ordered the NYPD and Parks Department officers to enforce social distancing in the city’s parks.
To further the enforcement effort, the Parks Department shuttered dog runs today after receiving complaints of overcrowding inside the runs.
The decision comes a week after Gov. Cuomo closed and locked the city’s playgrounds and basketball, tennis and handball courts after finding noncompliance to social distancing inside them.
Meanwhile, de Blasio ended the initiative that opened city blocks — including a portion of 34th Avenue in Jackson Heights — to pedestrians.
Not enough New Yorkers were utilizing the streets closed off to traffic “to justify the NYPD presence,” a City Hall spokesperson told the New York Post.
Cuomo also extended his statewide “PAUSE” order for nonessential workers to remain home through April 29.