June 24, 2020 / 5:35 AM / 11 days ago

New York City allows swimming at beaches ahead of Independence Day weekend

FILE PHOTO: New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio speaks to the media during a press conference In the Queens borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 10, 2020. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

(Reuters) - Beaches in New York City will be open to the public for swimming ahead of Independence Day, after partially being reopened for Memorial Day weekend celebrations last month, Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted late on Tuesday.

The mayor confirmed media reports that the city’s beaches would be officially open next week.

“The rumors are true: NYC beaches will open for swimming on July 1,” de Blasio said.

He reiterated that people should follow social distancing rules and cover faces at the beach to prevent spreading the novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 121,000 people and affected 2.36 million people in the U.S. as of late Tuesday.

Beaches in a few states were partially reopened for the Memorial Day holiday weekend on May 23-25, with various restrictions, including a swimming ban at New York City beaches.

The city has reported a total of 217,742 coronavirus cases as of yesterday, and 22,343 dead.

The decision to open beaches ahead of Independence Day weekend comes as the country is grappling with both public health concerns and social tension.

U.S. has witnessed widespread protests against racial injustice since the death of a Black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis on May 25, after a white police officer knelt on his neck.

Reporting by Maria Ponnezhath in Bengaluru. Editing by Gerry Doyle

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