Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday announced stricter guidelines on public gatherings in the face of the growing coronavirus pandemic in the Big Apple — and will have cops enforce the measures.
“When we say you can go out for some exercise, we’re not saying you can linger,” de Blasio said during a press briefing. “We’re not saying you can make a day of it. We’re saying go out, get a minimum amount of exercise and go back indoors.”
“We will be enforcing this but with understanding for the challenges that people are facing, for how new this is,” the mayor added. “We’re not going to be draconian. We’re going to give people a chance to get used to this, but I guarantee you: we will enforce this new reality.”
De Blasio made the announcement just hours after Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a challenge to the city to come up with a plan to keep large crowds from gathering at city parks in the wake of a statewide lockdown that goes into effect at 8 p.m. Sunday.
Cuomo gave de Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson 24 hours to come up with a plan.
De Blasio said he would have a written plan in place to enforce the decree on Monday.
“It is absolutely normal and human to want to get outside and get a little bit of exercise,” the mayor said. “But I remind you, the pause is all about social distancing. It is all about protecting ourselves and our families and each other.”
De Blasio said he would enforce the measure “through education, through warnings,” and urged New Yorkers to limit their time outdoors — and the number of people they hang with.
He said it’ll be “quite a while” before residents can hit the parks to play team sports or have cookouts.
“All that is gone for now,” de Blasio said. “It’s not gone forever. It’s gone certainly for weeks, probably for months. At some point we’ll be able to resume a more normal life.”
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said his officers would be “getting more and more involved in this” to enforce the new guidelines.
“It’s not going to be fun, it’s not going to be easy,” Shea said. “But it’s also not going to be forever.”