‘Is this America?’ Helicopters patrol CA beaches, hundreds of cops issue summonses all over NYC

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(Image: CBS News screenshot)

Warmer temperatures drew lockdown-weary Americans from coast to coast out of doors over the weekend.

But many came face to face with the disturbing intervention of local governments as helicopters patrolled beaches in California and New York City police issued summonses and made arrests over coronavirus social-distancing violations in area parks.

New York City parks were not only filled with thousands of residents ready to get out from under quarantine and stay-at-home orders, but hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on the open areas to enforce the government’s social distancing guidelines and the continued ban on large public gatherings.

Ahead of the weekend, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio warned that the expected warmer weather is “very much a threat” and reiterated a “no tolerance for gatherings” policy even as he announced that city streets and portions of parks will begin to open up.

“Go out for a little bit, but don’t go out for too much. Don’t gather, don’t try and do the things we would normally do on a beautiful spring day,” he told WNYC radio, explaining that he would dispatch 1,000 officers to New York’s streets to enforce the orders.

As predicted, Central Park and Prospect Park offered New Yorkers a welcome respite from indoor living as thousands converged on the city’s green areas amid the 70 degree sunshine. But police officers issued 43 summonses to those who were allegedly ignoring social distancing rules in the parks and another eight were handed to violators outside, according to NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea.

Violations of the coronavirus guideline can result in fines up to $1,000, though de Blasio noted that the “vast majority of New Yorkers are following the rules.”

Protective masks and bandannas were handed out for free to those visiting Prospect Park in Brooklyn, but Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo warned that residents should not be fooled by a sense of “false comfort,” insisting that not wearing masks is “disrespectful” to frontline workers battling the pandemic.

In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered all city beaches, State Parks, campgrounds, museums and visitor centers to be closed as residents in his state have been pushing back on the sweeping guidelines. Although photos and videos showed beach-goers in several locations practicing social distancing, Newsom retaliated against thousands of Californians who converged on beaches last week as temperatures soared.

“Is this America?” Reporter Michael Knowles asked in a tweet showing a helicopter patrolling the beaches.

Police were out on Sunday to enforce the rules.

In addition to the pushback on beach closures, many California business owners are reopening their doors in defiance of the governor’s restrictions on nonessential business. Protests sprang up across the state and many shared photos and videos of beach-goers.

 

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Frieda Powers

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