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De Blasio says New York City beaches won't open for Memorial Day weekend, mulls fencing

Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said Sunday that New York City's beaches will not open for Memorial Day weekend, and that he's considering fencing to close them off to the public.  

The mayor said during a press conference that New York City is not ready to reopen its beaches as the coronavirus pandemic continues to take a toll.

"I've said before, I'm going to say again, we are not opening our beaches on Memorial Day, we are not opening our beaches in the near term. It is not safe. It is not the right thing to do in the epicenter of this crisis," de Blasio said. 

De Blasio also said the decision to keep the beaches closed was "not made lightly" by officials, adding that indicators "are not where they need to be" for reopening. He said he has "never" ruled out the possibility of beaches opening later in the summer. 

"No swimming, no parties, no sports, no gatherings. We're going to give people a chance to get it right. And I believe in New Yorkers," he said.

The mayor told Fox News's "Sunday Morning Futures" that the decision was made to prevent overcrowding at the beaches as well as community spread. 

"If people are smart about it and listen to the rules, great," he said on the show. "If not, we actually might have to put up fencing to keep people off the beach. I don't want to do it, but if I have to, I will." 

"We are so far from being out of the woods here in New York City," he added. "We're still the epicenter. Until we're safe, no beaches open."

New York City has counted 189,031 cases of coronavirus, leading to at least 49,969 hospitalizations. At least 15,756 people are confirmed to have died from the virus, while 4,820 others are considered probable deaths, according to the city's health department data.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced on Friday that the state, along with New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware, would open beaches Memorial Day weekend with some restrictions.