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Gov. Cuomo played the necessary killjoy Wednesday, ordering all city playgrounds padlocked. A now predictably vacillating Mayor de Blasio had shuttered just 10; the governor sanely decided that their lure was in too many places packing too many people into too confined spaces, undermining social distancing measures needed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Add to the risk the fact that when kids get on monkey bars, swings and slides, they and sometimes their parents touch equipment that hasn’t been disinfected.
Here, though, we’d like to draw a thick red line, and not just in chalk that washes away with the rain: Parks, the city’s great release valve, must stay open.
Green spaces are always essential for a densely packed population, including 1.7 million children, the vast majority of whom lack backyards or decks or rooftops for use. At a time when authorities are urging people to stay inside except for essentials — essentials that include daily constitutional walks on sidewalks and through parks, as there is no public health risk and plenty of benefit to occasionally being out in the fresh air, while keeping one’s distance from others — they are especially precious.
This crisis has taught us some lasting lessons in what a great city considers essential. The subways, where no doubt the virus can travel from person to person, remain open because the benefit of allowing low-cost travel to people who don’t own cars outweighs their public health risk. Same with buses.
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