De Blasio tells WINS: 'We're not there yet' on opening beaches, pools, but says 'we have lifeguards being trained as we speak'

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- New Yorkers may be eager to head to one of the city's beaches and pools, but realistically, don't count on that happening anytime soon because of the challenges reopening them pose, Mayor Bill de Blasio told 1010 WINS Thursday.

"Everyone of us would love to get them back up and running," de Blasio told 1010 WINS reporter Juliet Papa, who hosted the one-hour special "New York City: Reopen, Restart, Rebuild." 

He added, "We're not there yet on beaches or pools but we are getting in position so that when we think it is safe enough we can move quickly."

In fact, he said, "for the beaches, we have the lifeguards being trained as we speak."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo reiterated on Thursday that it's up to cities -- not the state -- to decide whether to reopen beaches and pools.

De Blasio cautioned, "the beaches present a particular challenge ... We're not talking thousands of people or tens of thousands of people -- we're talking hundreds of thousands of people and we're not ready for that. If we ever get to the point -- I’m hopeful we do -- that requires the disease not to resurface. We cannot have a boomerang of this disease. If we want to get the beaches, everyone is going to have to stay tough and disciplined ... Initially it will have to come with real limitations and restrictions."

But will reopening beaches and pools simply mean reinforcing social distancing?

"It's complicated because we're all humans and you're talking about a lot of people and a lot of habits that we all have from your whole lives from how you go to a pool or beach," de Blasio said. "First of all, it's about limiting the number of people who would be allowed onto a beach or allowed into a pool. Where you can do markings, absolutely, you do markings, it takes personnel to educate people to remind them to wear face masks."

As for pools, he says they "are more controlled environments -- that's sort of a blessing and a curse. You have more ability to control it, but it's also closer quarters. The locker rooms are a challenge. Lines would have to be distanced. So we're working that through. Those are the conversations we're having with the Parks Department right now in City Hall.

Looking ahead to Phase 2, de Blasio said New York City could technically enter it as early as June 22, but it will more likely hit that benchmark at the beginning of July.. The city will work with New York state to set a date for Phase 2, he said.

“I still believe the best estimate is the beginning of July,” he said. “But look, if the health care situation continues to prove positive, obviously I want to go as soon as we can go safely.” 

Asked by a caller when New York City might enter Phases 3 and 4, de Blasio said that was a “constant conversation with the state.” 

“I want to be very clear that… unlike the other regions of the state, the city is always based on the specific things we see happening and specific conversations between the city and the state,” he said. “In theory, you can move from phase to phase in a matter of weeks, if you are successful enough.” 

“The more precise answer about, just the truth of how things really work, is it will be a watch-and-wait during Phase 2 to see if we can sustain it, and if we feel real comfortable taking the next step,” he added.  

In addition to de Blasio, guests on the show included, Lorelei Salas, the commissioner of the NYC Department Department of Consumer and Worker Protections (DCWP); Jonnel Doris, the commissioner for the NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS); Dr. Theodore Long, the vice president of Ambulatory Care at New York City Health + Hospitals; Dr. Angela Diaz of the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center; Lisa Sorin, president of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce; and Melba Wilson of Melbas Restaurant on West 114th Street in Manhattan.