March 27, 2020, By Michael Dorgan
Council Member Costa Constantinides has called on the Parks Department to provide additional Parks Enforcement Patrol (PEP) officers around Astoria Park this weekend to enforce social distancing guidelines.
Constantinides has asked for the extra supervision to disperse crowds in order to help stem the spread of COVID-19 after large crowds of people were seen congregating in the area last weekend.
The Astoria lawmaker has also asked the DOT to assess whether Shore Boulevard — which runs along the western side of Astoria Park — can be closed off to create extra space for pedestrians to social distance correctly.
The state has ordered people to stay indoors as much as possible to curb the spread of COVID-19. If people need to go outside for essential activities or exercise, they are advised to do so alone and stay at least six feet apart from others.
“We saw far too many clusters of people at the Astoria Park running track last weekend when we should be exercising a safe distance from one another,” Constantinides said.
“As we head into another weekend, we need Parks to ensure too many people aren’t using our exercise facilities at once,” he said.
The city parks and playgrounds will continue to remain open — as long as people adhere to social distancing rules and avoid group sports, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday.
It follows Mayor Bill de Blasio’s announcement earlier in the week that the NYPD and PEP officers would increase enforcement on social distancing in public spaces.
The city has banned group activities like barbeques and basketball, as well as organized sports in its parks. The mayor has also ordered the removal of basketball rims from some 80 city parks over coronavirus concerns.
The city is urging the public to observe social distancing requirements and not to congregate.
Mayor de Blasio said that he plans to keep all city parks open as long as people are following the social distancing guidelines. He said that he will reassess the situation Saturday to see whether people are complying and whether they should remain open.