“Anyone tries to get in the water, they’ll be taken right out of the water,” the mayor said at a press briefing on Monday.
Though beaches in New York City have partially reopened, people are still required to adhere to social distancing guidelines by avoiding gathering in crowds.
De Blasio’s warning about taking a dip at the beach appears to be impressing few, though, as people grow increasingly frustrated with Covid-19 lockdown measures. “He literally does not have the manpower to accomplish this,” actor Adam Baldwin tweeted in response to the mayor.
“Could you imagine riot cops in NYC coming out and beating and arresting people for swimming in the ocean?” another Twitter user quipped.
Others openly taunted the mayor and complained of a “police state” being created through government overreach in enforcing lockdown guidelines.
De Blasio was also put through the wringer for suggesting police could fence off beaches if people rebel against the current guidelines for the areas. Considering de Blasio is an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump and his plan for a southern border wall, the mayor’s sudden embrace of fences looked a little hypocritical to critics.
The mayor and the NYPD have already come under scrutiny for punishing people breaking lockdown measures. Following the announcement that thousands of “social distancing ambassadors” would be unleashed in the city to enforce the rules, a video showing unmasked officers aggressively arresting several people for not social distancing went viral. The city has also been criticized as a disproportionate number of minorities have been ticketed for breaking the orders.
De Blasio’s threat of removing people who decide to go swimming may be hollow anyway, as the city has already pulled back on enforcement in the wake of mass criticism. He announced on Sunday, for instance, that police would no longer issue citations for people refusing to wear face coverings, and only people gathering in large groups will be punished for not social distancing.
“We’re going to focus on when it starts to be more than a handful of people, and we’re not going to be having the NYPD enforcing on face coverings,” the mayor said.
The head of the Police Benevolent Association, which represents active and retired NYPD police officers, called for an end to officers being in the “social distancing business” earlier this month, warning such enforcement will cause the city “to fall apart before our eyes.”