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Long Island political leaders are calling on state officials to allow their beaches to open at normal 100 percent capacity amid a steep drop in COVID-19 infections as more New Yorkers get vaccinated.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and state Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Rockville Centre) want Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Health Department to repeal the 50 percent capacity rule in place since last summer.
Memorial Day weekend — the kick-off of the beach season — is just a month away.
“Expanding beach capacity to 100% by Memorial Day would be a common sense move given our high vaccination rate, the low risk of outdoor transmission, and the importance of beach tourism for our local economy,” Curran said.
Kaminsky said, “With infection rates going down and vaccination rates going up, it is time to reopen our beaches, the lifeblood of our oceanfront communities and their economies.”
The push for fully open beaches comes as the US Centers for Disease Control recommended that American who’ve received their COVID-19 shots can go outside without wearing a mask, unless they’re in large gatherings,
Cuomo said after the CDC announcement that the state will immediately adopt the agency’s guidance, calling it “liberating.”
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone agreed with neighboring Nassau County officials.
“In light of the latest CDC guidance, I’m calling on the State to allow for full capacity on Long Island beaches and increase stadium capacity to 50 percent [up from 33 percent] at minor league ballparks to ensure for safe, family friendly activities.”
But New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio stopped short of calling for 100 percent capacity at Big Apple beaches, with his office saying the city will defer to the state’s guidance.
“Health and safety is our priority, and we will follow the State’s guidelines,” said City Hall spokeswoman Laura Feyer.
Last summer, some Long Island beaches such as Jones Beach had to turn away visitors because they had already reached their social distancing capacity.