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The young and the maskless; or hot town, spring in the (COVID) city

The weather is now really warming up and “lockdown fatigue” is sending Downtowners streaming to the parks and waterfront. People are also increasingly hanging around outside local bars with their takeout beers and drinks.

Over the weekend and last week, people clustered in small groups — mostly without face masks — on the lawns in Tompkins Square Park and the Christopher St. Pier, in Hudson River Park.

Another view of the scene — but not of many masks — at the Christopher St. Pier on Sunday. (Photo by © Jefferson Siegel)
A jogger with his mask in the down position passes by Westbeth Artists Housing — and parkgoers without any masks at all. (Photo by © Jefferson Siegel)

Last Friday evening, on the corner outside Niagara bar, at Seventh St. and Avenue A, a socially non-distancing crowd was gathered, while, nearby on St. Mark’s Place, others watched a Santana-style electric guitarist jamming on the sidewalk in front of East Village Social.

That’s some good grass. Hanging out in Tompkins Square Park, with few face masks in sight. (Photo by © Jefferson Siegel)
Meditating under the Hare Krishna Tree — apparently not on the karma of not wearing a face mask. (Photo by © Jefferson Siegel)

Wednesday night outside East Village Social, the East Village All-Stars — featuring Satchmo-style Smidge on trumpet — were playing on the pavement and drawing a small crowd.

The East Village All-Stars were jamming last Wednesday evening in front of East Village Social. The banjo player took his mask down to sing on this number. The trumpet player, Smidge, well, it’s a bit hard for him to wear a mask. The guy at far left — possibly an owner or manager — was busy spraying the takeout table and front-door handles with disinfectant. (Photo by The Village Sun)
Knish to go…and hold the droplet cloud, please! At B&H Dairy, on Second Ave. near St. Mark’s Place, plastic barriers have been put up to protect both the restaurant workers and customers coming in to pick up takeout orders. (Photo by © Jefferson Siegel)
Stringing lights up outside the Holiday Cocktail Lounge, on St. Mark’s Place. (Photo by © Jefferson Siegel)

Farther down on the Lower East Side at Pier 35, many people have not been wearing masks while crowding close together — even though an entire several-blocks-long walkway along the East River is open just around the corner.

The group Friends of Pier 35 tweeted out their alarm over the situation, calling on the city to send “social ambassadors” to the pier and hand out face masks.

There’s lots of space, 15,000 square feet, behind Pier 36 for social distancing, though few are using it. (Photo by The Village Sun)

After videos of some rough arrests recently went viral, Mayor de Blasio has now said police will no longer enforce for not social distancing or not wearing a mask. However, he said, police will still disperse large crowds.

In just a month from now, summer begins.


  1. Barry Drogin Barry Drogin May 20, 2020

    I read the Mayor’s news conference transcripts – where he thanks reporters for telling him about problems. Rather than just taking photographs, why doesn’t The Village Sun then call 311 (or send the photo using and report on how long the response time is and what happens?

    The news media are essential workers, but that doesn’t include the right to help the enemy. You’re not an embedded wartime reporter giving away troop movements. You’re passively allowing this virus to continue to spread. If you see something, SAY SOMETHING.

  2. Bonn2 Bonn2 May 20, 2020

    This is nothing new. Large groups of young people have been gathering at the Tin Shop on East 9th Street and Avenue B for weeks. Hard to drink or smoke with a mask, but never social distancing. I have to skirt around them every afternoon to walk around the perimeter of Tompkins Square Park. On many neighborhood websites, people have been complaining about the lack of responsibility and total disregard of guidelines since the the norms took effect. As for the East River Park, it’s about 50-50 masks. Hard to find a spot on a bench or patch of grass to social distance to avoid these maskless wonders. By the way, just heard on the radio that Italy is experiencing an uptick in corona virus cases due to the opening. And in South Korea, the uptick has been linked to dance clubs.

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