Crowds of gawkers ignored New York’s social-distance regulations and packed the west side of Manhattan on Monday to watch a US Navy hospital ship arrive to give badly needed coronavirus aid.
The throngs of people stood shoulder to shoulder and took photos of the USNS Comfort as it pulled into Pier 90 near West 50th Street at about 10:40 a.m., photos of the scene show.
Some waved American flags and others huddled against one another at the fence of the pier. Meanwhile, joggers out for a morning run brushed past the onlookers.
At least a dozen NYPD cops stood by and initially did not disperse the bone-headed bystanders as they gathered and snapped cellphone photos of the ship pulling into the pier.
After members of the City Hall press corps tweeted about the throngs of people, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s communications team directed the NYPD to get the crowds to disperse.
“The pictures made me realize it was happening and I reported it to detail who got involved,” City Hall spokesperson Freddi Goldstein said.
“This is a new reality for all of us and we’re all adjusting. The mayor and the police commissioner are in regular contact to make sure our officers understand this new ask of them, as well,” she added.
The NYPD warned the crowds about violating social distancing, but did not issue any tickets, a high-ranking police source said.
De Blasio has said that New Yorkers who ignore orders from city officials to disperse could face $500 fines.
“The goal here is just to get people to comply for their safety and everyone’s safety,” de Blasio said on NY1 Monday morning.
“We still have some people who are holding out — what our officers and our other enforcement agencies are going to do, they’re going to go up to someone to say, ‘You have got to disperse now,’” he added.
The floating hospital was dispatched to New York to relieve the city’s overrun hospitals as coronavirus has spread like wildfire in the city and across the Empire State.
More than 1,000 people in the state have died from the virus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday from the Javits Center, the Manhattan convention center, which is now being used as a field hospital.
Mayor de Blasio heralds arrival of USNS Comfort ship amid coronavirus crisis
Cuomo welcomed the USNS Comfort in a tweet Monday morning, writing its arrival “will be remembered.”
“The hospital capacity we add now will save lives,” the governor wrote. “God bless New York.”