Since the start of the lockdowns in March, the city has handed out 11,000 warnings and close to 2,000 summonses, according to Joseph Fucito, the New York City sheriff, who helps oversee enforcement. Even so, the rule-bending and breaking have become a brazenly open secret.
At playgrounds, children are playing on swings behind locked gates as their parents look on. One playground in Williamsburg was unlocked with a bolt cutter, and as of Wednesday, the gate remained wide open. Baseball players sneaking through a hole in the fence at another park in Brooklyn did so a block away from a precinct station house.
“There’s been a lot going on the last few weeks and we’ve had to put resources into a lot more things,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday, alluding to the protests, still ongoing, that have followed the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. He said that the city did not relish issuing fines to small businesses, “especially after ever they’ve been through, but if we have to, we will.”
He also said he understood why people were setting caution aside. “I get that people, it’s been so long, they’ve been through so much,” he said. “But there’s a reason we’ve structured the rules, there a reason the state has structured the rules the way we have, and that’s to fight back the disease and keep it out of our lives.”