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Stroud Playground NY
Photograph: Courtesy Daniel Avila/NYC Parks

Will NYC's public parks and playgrounds stay open? Here's what we know

By Oliver Strand
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UPDATE: Governor Cuomo has closed all NYC playgrounds, according to a briefing on Wednesday, Apr 1, The New York Post reports. It's not yet known when this will take effect.

UPDATE: On Tuesday, Mar 31, 10 NYC playgrounds are being closed across the five boroughs due to overcrowding, according to the mayor's COVID-19 update at The USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, ABC reports. They are as follows: Fort Tryon - Jacob Javits and Raoul Wallenberg Playgrounds in Manhattan; Middleton Playground, Brighton Playground and Fort Greene Park's two playgrounds in Brooklyn; Mauro Playground in Queens; two Clove Lakes Park playgrounds in Staten Island; Watson Gleason Playground in the Bronx. 

UPDATE: Park restrooms remain open and are cleaned daily according to the NYC Parks Department

UPDATE: On Wednesday, Mar 25, New York state and city officials announced that they might close playgrounds and parks, according to CNBC. They also plan to close streets in NYC.

Governor Andrew Cuomo didn't mince words.

When asked about New Yorkers crowding into public parks and bringing kids to playgrounds—with little regard to the social distance we're told to keep (six feet!)—the governor expressed his frustrations. "It’s insensitive, it’s arrogant, it’s self-destructive and it’s disrespectful," he said in a press conference on Mar 22. "It has to stop and it has to stop now. This is not a joke and I am not kidding."

Soon, casual use of public parks and kids' playgrounds might be forbidden—the High Line has already been closed to the public. Governor Cuomo asked Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson to come up with an immediate response to this Prospect Park-sized problem, according to yesterday's press conference.

At this time, NYC Parks remain open. But many facilities are closed and most activities have been canceled or delayed:

  • All recreation centers are closed
  • All nature centers are closed 
  • The Swedish Cottage is closed
  • The High Line is closed
  • The Arsenal Gallery is closed
  • All historic houses are closed
  • Concessions are closed
  • Horses stables remain operational, but closed to the general public
  • All Shape Up NYC programs are canceled until further notice
  • Urban Park Ranger programs are canceled
  • All tournaments and sports practices are canceled
  • Team sports (including basketball, football, softball and soccer) are not permitted

If New Yorkers can't follow the rules that will help stop the spread of the Coronavirus, we might be faced with closures that prevent all access to NYC's greenspaces. We'll be sure to update readers if we are notified about any changes. 

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