New York —
Hundreds of small businessmen, who operate in the Rockaway resort in Queens, do not know how and when they will be able to open their premises that only work in the hot season
While maintaining the enormous unknown of when will the beaches of New York City open, or if they are to open entirely this summer, the merchants and workers who depend on the hot months for their operations, however, envision a “Catastrophic season” given the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.
However, in amidst a sea of doubts, the owners of restaurants and itinerant stands of different services in Rockaway Beach, in Queens, one of the eight public beaches in the Big Apple, from the week before ‘Memorial Day’ they had already started to start the engines for this first weekend, which is considered the ‘unofficial’ start of the summer season.
But hopes of opening could be dashed after Mayor Bill de Blasio indicated that the beaches will not open this holiday. And meanwhile, more than 30 dealerships operating units of summer services between 86th and 106th streets on the ‘Rockaway Boardwalk’, right in front of the popular spa, they still don’t receive information from when and how they can start their activities.
The Colombian gastronomic entrepreneur Angela Sierra, 50, who drives with his partner Viviana Lewis, for five years the Palenque restaurant offering dishes from their country, on the ‘boardwalk’, He lives an uncertainty that also seizes his team of six employees.
“For small businesses, which depend on the hot months, there are no possibilities to think of a season, which at least economically cover our operations “, indicates Sierra.
Merchants who offer specific services in season, when temperatures soar, have two deadlines, to ensure their business feasibility: between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Merchants denounce lack of information
Imagine that this next weekend is already lost, which was the starting point. Those of us who have concessions on the beach do not have official information on when and how we will operate.. It is obvious that when we open, due to the rules of social distancing, the service will be limited ”, estimates the Colombian.
Part of the Palenque Restaurant team with the expectation of offering their dishes this year. (Photo: Courtesy)
The scene of hundreds of bathers who fill the boulevard and are concentrated in bars and restaurants on the New York beach promenade, generates many concerns in the days of COVID-19, both for the authorities, and even more so for merchants.
Such is the case of Caracas Rockaway Arepas Bar, one of the largest meeting places on the beach boulevard, which in summer times houses dozens of people at its tables.
Sources of that local Venezuelan food indicated that They find analyzing the protocols of the opening.
“We have many doubts about how we can guarantee social distancing, in our space. We only wait for the precise instructions and what are the recommendations that the Health authorities will give, ”said the spokesperson.
The Peruvian merchant Leyla Hirala, owner of La Cevichería, who just this year expires the concession to operate in the spa, also ensures that “he does not see a future for this season ”. In addition, as a resident of that Queens town, he expresses that there are divided opinions on the possibility of opening or not the spas.
“This is our only income and we are in limbo. We do not know anything. But we have to think that there is a health catastrophe and first is the well-being of the people. If I were the mother of one of the lifeguards, I would not want her to work, for nothing in the world, this year ”, the businesswoman confessed.
“Worse than Hurricane Sandy”
“I don’t think they’ll let us open I no longer prefer to create illusions and look for another job. Those places are for crowds of people. These neighborhoods here in Rockaway, are already very affected by the pandemic, there are many sick and dead. This has been worse in this area than Hurricane Sandy“Said the employee of a summer food stall who preferred not to reveal his identity.
Precisely the ZIP codes 11694 and 11691 that belong to Rockaway, are Queens coastal towns that are highlighted as one of the most affected in the city by the concentration of infections by COVID-19, according to the map of the City Department of Health (DOHMH).
In other areas of the state, where the beaches will open, localities must comply with a series of rules imposed by the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut governorates, such as limiting access by 50% of its capacity, restricting parking lots and entrances, in addition group contact activities will be prohibited and also the sale of food and drinks.
Up to a million people can gather in one day on all of NYC’s beaches. (Photo: .)
Another angle: the work of rescuers
The arrival of summer also implies hiring of hundreds of workers, including lifeguards and temporary employees They offer spa services, although this year there is a possibility that they could stay at home.
If the opening of the beaches were announced, there are some aspects of protection against the virus to analyze.
The Union leader of District 37, Henry Garrido, asserts that the City’s decision to open beaches will depend on a series of very complicated considerations.
“We have many questions. First, if the Federal aid could be on time to pay perhaps 1,000 first responders, and second, What’s up if they have to physically hug someone, or even perform a mouth-to-mouth resuscitationWhat are the regulations for that? ”He asked himself.
The challenge of opening the beaches
The opening of the 14 miles of beaches in the Big Apple It is one of the main challenges that the City will have while facing the monstrous crisis caused by the coronavirus.
With New York City as the epicenter of the pandemic, Mayor De Blasio warned that crowds at the spas could easily conflict with rules of social distancing.
“If people flocked to the beaches, on public transport, it would thrive in the type of confined and crowded spaces, where the risk of the virus spreading increases,” said the president.
Jane Meyer, a Mayor’s spokeswoman, he told local media that they were “putting plans in place so that we can open beaches this summer, only yes, it is a sure possibility. We are reviewing the guidelines established by the Governor and will make all decisions based on the health of New Yorkers. ”
The most popular beaches in the Big Apple, Rockaway Beach, Coney Island Beach and Orchard Beach, among others, they are under the control of the City’s Parks and Recreation Department and generally open on Memorial Day weekend.
Crowding on the beaches:
1 million people they can meet on all of New York City’s beaches on a hot summer weekend day, according to City estimates.