Coronavirus News: Heading to the beach from NYC? Not so fast

ROCKAWAY BEACH (WABC) -- Heading to the beach is a Memorial Day Weekend tradition for many, but if you live in New York City, you might be out of luck.

The beaches in NYC are closed for the most part, but there are rules amid the COVID-19 pandemic and officials want New Yorkers to know they can't just drive to a beach in another county.

However, at Rockaway Beach on Thursday night, the owner of an ice cream shop argued that the beaches should be open.

"We need them to open the beach for us to survive. There is... that's just it. The only thing we can do is go to the beach for the day. And we lost that," said owner of Mara's Ice Cream Parlor, Mara Valentino.

A beach is nothing without ice cream and Valentino's ice cream parlor is nothing without beachgoers.

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Months into the pandemic, she was hoping business would finally pick up this weekend. But then she heard the city's plan.

"Our beaches are open but the water is not open for swimming," said Asst. Chief Brian Conroy with NYPD Brooklyn South.

That makes for a delicate balance of summer fun versus social distancing -- enjoy the sand, but not the water.

"If we have to send people off the beach, off the boardwalk, if we have to reduce the number of people, we'll do that," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

It's no more welcoming just up the road in Long Beach where residents are only allowed in the water.

And state parks like Jones Beach will be open to all, but they're capping capacity at 50 percent.

So Gov. Andrew Cuomo says maybe don't even bother.

"You don't want to take that ride and get out there and find out the beach is already closed," Cuomo said.

Back in Rockaway, Valentino's ice cream shop has survived this long because of the small business loans she has received from the federal government. But they will only get her so far. She needs beachgoers to buy ice cream before her business melts away.

"Everybody in this town lives from Memorial Day to Labor Day, it's what we stay all winter for," Valentino said. "Mr. de Blasio! Open our beach! Period."

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