Sign of a cautious deconfinement, the New Yorkers were able to rediscover the beach on Sunday, greeting a mixed weather which allowed them to avoid the crowds while enjoying a great breath of fresh air “formidable for mental health” . For this extended Memorial Day weekend, which marks the opening of the American summer season, the beaches have reopened in New York and New Jersey, neighboring states that have been most affected by the epidemic: the two of them , they identified 40% of the nearly 100,000 deaths in the United States.
"It's just great to hear the sound of the waves. It's a great form of meditation, being able to look at the ocean, go into the water, ” says Brittany Neiss, 25, walking barefoot with her friend on Jones Beach on Long Island. Authorities made "the right choice" by reopening this beach and many others, she said. "We need to feel ... human, instead of being stuck at home" .
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Less than an hour east of New York City, this 10 km long beach has reopened for swimming with a capacity reduced by 50%, and ubiquitous barriers and warnings to enforce social distancing. Far from complaining about these measures, many visitors welcomed them, fearing a resurgence of the epidemic. Like Gloria Warren, 60, who came with her sister, a friend and a meter to measure the distances between their folding chairs. "It's the only way, or we will have another pandemic," said the woman, who works in the administration of a Long Island hospital.
"As long as people keep their distance, I am comfortable," said Janina Laucella, 38, who came with her two little boys busy playing in the sand. “It gives children the opportunity to exercise and to give an impression of normalcy. And me too. We don't talk enough about mental health, ” she says. Same joy to go outside in Coney Island, famous Brooklyn Beach, accessible by subway. Mayor Bill de Blasio maintains the swimming ban there for the time being, and the Luna Park amusement park remains closed, but people were delighted to stroll along the large promenade bordering the beach.
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Lisa and Michael Sklar came from a suburb north of New York with their 22-year-old daughter. "I feel safe seeing that most people wear masks, that there aren't too many people, and that people respect distances," says Lisa, who is a stylist. "We've been stuck at home for 70 days, it's really good to be able to go out and see the ocean (...). It's great for our mental health to be here. ” She was, however, happy to see many police officers guarding the distance - and no crowds, thanks to the clouds and a temperature below 20 degrees.
At a time of controversial deconfinement, beaches are one of the high-risk places - as images of crowds on beaches in California and Florida have recently shown. "I am very worried when people go out and do not keep the distance," said Dr Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House crisis cell, on Sunday. "We know the sun helps kill the virus, but that doesn't stop people from being responsible."