Photograph: Shutterstock

What families can and cannot do in New York City right now

All your questions answered.


Check back often, as we will be updating this page regularly.

New York City is expected to enter Phase One of reopening around June 8, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo. (Read more about what that entails on Time Out New York.)

However, since this is a constantly-changing environment, families aren't always sure what is and is not acceptable. We've rounded up common Q's from NYC parents and responses from the professionals. Read on for more information and stay safe!

Can I hire a babysitter? 

As of May 29, the New York City Department of Health states, "All New Yorkers must stay home as much as possible," on its website. 

If you must go out, the department suggests that you seek care from a reliable family member or friend who is not sick. Parents should not leave their children with older adults and people who suffer from underlying health issues, as they are the ones who are most at risk of getting sick. 

Essential workers such as first responders, health care professionals, transit employees and others who help the city function can place children with the Regional Enrichment Centers set up in the public schools. These centers are also food hubs that provide three meals a day Monday through Friday to any New Yorker at no cost.

Learn more about keeping your children safe here

Can I take my children to the doctor? 

The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents to stick to the standard schedule of wellness visits, vaccinations and other preventative care set by their pediatrician. When possible, a virtual visit should be held remotely. The APA encourages you to consult with your pediatrician for the appropriate action. 

Learn more on the AAP's website

Can I take my child to the dentist? 

All dental offices in New York State are currently closed except for emergency and urgent procedures, according to the New York State Dental Association. Currently, you cannot take your child to the dentist unless it's an emergency. 

Learn more by visiting the New York State Dental Association website

Can I take my family to the park? 

Many New York City Parks remain open, but many facilities within those parks are closed until further notice. The shuttered facilities include:

  • All City playgrounds 
  • All City public pools
  • All Recreation Centers (memberships will be extended to to cover the closing) 
  • Basketball, handball and tennis courts (basketball court rims and tennis nets have been removed); bocce courts and volleyball courts; and skate parks
  • Grilling areas (barbecuing and picnicking is prohibited)
  • Dog runs
  • All City nature centers and historic houses
  • The Swedish Cottage and the Arsenal Gallery in Central Park
  • Horse stables are operational, but closed to the public
  • High Line, Roger Morris Park, Dyckman Farmhouse Park, Queens Farm Park and Fort Totten Park

Restrooms remain open and are being cleaned on a daily basis according to the Parks Department

On May 8, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced new rules for NYC parks that experienced overcrowding. Hudson River Park Piers 45 and 46 will limit capacity and increase NYPD presence. Domino Park in Brooklyn is being closely watched as well. 

Can I go to farmers markets? 

Farmers markets remain open, but you must practice social distancing when shopping.

Read about the rules and regulations on Time Out New York

Can my family visit a playground? 

As of May 29, playgrounds are currently closed. Stay tuned for updates about their reopening.

Can I take my family out to eat?

New York City restaurants and cafes only offer takeout or delivery: Click here for our definitive list of the best family restaurants doing delivery.

Learn more about how restaurants in NYC plan to reopen at Time Out New York

Can I take my family camping?

New York State Park grounds, forests and trails are open, though facilities like playgrounds are closed. New Yorkers are encouraged to stay home, but if families do venture out, they are asked to choose a park close to home, practice safe social distancing once there and wear a face covering when social distancing is not an option.  

New York State Park campsites, cabins and cottages will open to those with existing reservations beginning June 1. You must already have a new reservation to camp. For those interested in making a new reservation, a limited number of full-service cottages and full hook-up RV sites will be available to reserve beginning June 1. 

For a complete list of rules and regulations, which are constantly changing, visit New York State’s Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation website.

Will my children go back to school this year? 

Students in New York State will not return to school this academic year, and remote learning will continue. A plan is still being devised for the 2020-2021 academic year, which could be a mix of remote learning and in-school learning. Chancellor Richard Carranza is currently taking all options into consideration. Families should expect an update on the fall by July at the earliest. 

Will my children be able to graduate? 

The New York City Department of Education outlines graduation requirements on its website. In New York State, students can earn one of three diplomas: a Regents diploma, an advanced Regents diploma and a local diploma. According to the NYC DOE: "To earn a diploma, students must earn specific course credits and pass specific Regents exams."

Parents are asked to get in touch with guidance counselors if they feel as though their child won’t be able to meet the requirements. Although specific details have yet to be revealed, Mayor de Blasio promised NYC public school high school seniors  a virtual, city-wide graduation ceremony with notable alumni.

Learn more about grading systems for underclassmen here

Will my children be able to attend summer school? 

Following city, state and federal guidelines, NYC schools will conduct summer school virtually this year. Parents will be notified in June if their children are required or recommended to attend.

Learn more about the schedule and regulations here

Can my children attend camp this summer? 

A decision has yet to be made about summer camps in New York. Check out our updates on NYC's most popular programs and learn about virtual offerings

Can I take my family to the beach this summer? 

On May 15, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced in a tweet that beaches in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware will open Memorial Day Weekend with "strict precautions" and will operate at 50 percent capacity. Face masks will be required when visitors cannot social distance. 

NYC beaches are closed for swimming, according to the NYC Parks Department. Although restrooms are open, barbecuing, gatherings and organized sports are prohibited. Visitors are asked to limit the time spent on the beach. 

Learn more about what you can and cannot do on NYC beaches at Time Out New York.

Can I go to the amusement park this summer? 

New York City amusement parks, including Luna Park and Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, have postponed their opening days, which were originally scheduled for early April. Both attractions have yet to announce a decision about the 2020 season, but they plan to operate in accordance with city, state and federal regulations. Amusement parks are part of the fourth and final phase of New York's reopening plans. 

Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey will require reservations before guests can visit the park once it reopens. A digital scheduling system will be put in place. 

Learn about updates and safety procedures at kids' amusement parks in the tristate area here

Can I go to the movies this summer?

Patrick Corcoran, the vice president of the National Association of Theatre Owners, hopes to have most cinemas in the United States open by late June or early July. However, there are no set dates for New York. 

“It will depend on the course of the pandemic and when public health official give the go-ahead on the reopening phases,"Corcoran said. "The late June, early July target is within the realm of possibility.”

Currently, entertainment businesses are in the fourth and final phase of the state's reopening plan.

Learn more about theaters—and what they might look like in the future—at Time Out New York

Most popular on Time Out

Disney's free drawing classes teach you how to sketch your favorite princesses
- Tour the real-life locations of Harry Potter's world with Google Earth
- Celebrate the 100th birthday of Deno’s Wonder Wheel with a free coloring book
- New York's kiddie salons share advice on how to cut your child's hair at home
- Best family restaurants in NYC doing delivery

Sign up to receive great Time Out New York Kids deals in your inbox each day.

Share the story
Latest news