People flock to NYC-area bars, beaches as ‘quarantine fatigue’ intensifies
They’re partying like it’s 2019.
Lockdown-weary New Yorkers ditched the distancing to get social instead this weekend — transforming parts of the Big Apple into a raucous, late-season Mardi Gras.
Yet the city’s COVID-be-damned attitude was nothing compared with the scene in Belmar, NJ, a beach popular with Staten Islanders and Brooklynites.
Huge crowds waited shoulder-to-shoulder on the boardwalk for their turn to buy beach badges.
“The line for beach badges was like four non-socially distanced blocks long,” tweeted Jarrett Seidler, who described the boardwalk as “obscenely packed.”
Outside popular bars on the Upper East Side, the Upper West Side, the East and West Villages and in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, The Post found booze hounds arriving for the takeout cocktails and then staying — and staying — to sip drinks on packed sidewalks and soak up the lively scenes.
“How are you going to drink with a mask on?” one reveler, hairdresser Akeem Kelley, told The Post.
His mask dangled below his chin as he stood outside the Upper East Side’s popular Dorrian’s Red Hand bar — where crowds exceeding three dozen people, nearly all unmasked, were found in the early evenings of Friday and Saturday.
“They don’t care about us,” said Ann Trent, 72, of Manhattan, on Saturday.
She sat on a bench at the west end of the Brooklyn Bridge as a steady stream of mask-free sightseers and bicyclists passed her by, and she mused, “What happened to all of us protecting everyone else?”
The crowds, which enjoyed summer-like weather that climbed to a high of 76 degrees on Saturday, apparently had forgotten that they live in the epicenter of the pandemic.
Outside the East Village Social on St. Marks Place, two guitarists helped kick off the weekend’s festivities Friday night by plugging into a portable amplifier and jamming for tips from the gathered crowd.
“Obviously too many people,” one bartender conceded to The Post on Saturday.
Most of the bar-hopping social-distance scofflaws who were observed Friday and Saturday were young — and many chose not to wear masks.
City Councilman Mark Levine, who chairs the Health Committee, blamed the recklessness on “quarantine fatigue” and said he feared it might lead to a rebound in COVID-19 deaths.
The virus killed 100 people in the city during the 24 hours ending 2 p.m. Saturday, according to official stats. But at the height of the city’s outbreak in mid-April, some 500 died in a single 24-hour period.
“It’s only going to get worse as we head into a hot New York City summer,” the upper Manhattan Democrat said.
He urged Mayor de Blasio to plan now for the safe outdoor use of streets, beaches, playgrounds and parks — “or we will drive noncompliance underground.”
The result will be massive indoor house parties, swimming without lifeguards and neighborhoods “busting open fire hydrants,” he warned.
Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch noted that cops can’t be responsible for policing every scofflaw in every corner of the city.
“As the weather heats up, the situation is only going to get worse,” he said. “Any policy that continues to deploy police officers to enforce social
distancing is not only bound to fail, it is putting cops in dangerous situations with no support.”
An NYPD spokesperson said there will be no crackdown — and if social-distance violations increase, cops will continue issuing summonses as a last resort.
Asked about the crowds, a spokeswoman for Mayor de Blasio praised the current NYPD enforcement efforts but urged that it’s up to New Yorkers themselves “to protect themselves, their neighbors and the essential workers sacrificing so much to keep them safe.”
Gov. Cuomo, meanwhile, urged New Yorkers not to ease up on social distancing, despite improving data.
Statewide, the daily death toll as of Saturday afternoon was 157, up from the 132 reported the day before, for a new total of 22,459 COVID-19 fatalities.
The slow, steady decrease in deaths and hospitalizations has led to lockdown relaxations in half of the state’s regions, all upstate, Cuomo said.
And in another step toward a better, new normal, horse and car racing will resume across the state next month, albeit with less noise, as spectators are banned from the stands, the governor said.
Racetracks and the Watkins Glen International car track will reopen as early as June 1.
And Major League Baseball may be next — also without fans.
“If it works economically, that would be great,” Cuomo said.
Lockdown frustration led to several dozen protesters gathering in front of the state Capitol in Albany on Saturday, holding American flags and signs demanding that businesses be allowed to reopen.
Michelle Fusco, a resident of rural Knox who had been a waitress for 33 years, said she has been out of work since March 16.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen to me in the coming years,” she said. “I like to think I was essential.”
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