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Coronavirus Update: Pilot Program Kicks Off, Closing Some NYC Streets To Traffic To Boost Social Distancing

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Four streets across New York City closed to traffic Friday to help people coping with cabin fever get some fresh air.

CBS2's Kiran Dhillon took a look at reaction to the pilot program.

For many New Yorkers, social distancing is of the utmost importance during this coronavirus crisis. But that doesn't mean it's been easy.

For Rachel and Stephen Tracy, it has taken its toll.

"It's so important for our mental health to be able to get outside," Rachel said.


That's why the couple decided to check out the city's new pilot project on Friday that shut down several streets near their home at the corner of 28th street and Park Avenue.

They immediately fell in love with it.

"It's the first time I've felt relaxed coming outside," Rachel said.

"It's nice. Look how much space, look how much room. Look at the distance between everyone!" Stephen said.

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They weren't the only ones. Hundreds of people took to Park Avenue between 28th and 34th street on Friday to get some fresh air. It's one of four locations chosen for the four day pilot project.

The following streets will be closed to vehicular traffic from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the pilot program:

  • Manhattan: Park Avenue between 28th Street and 34th Street
  • Brooklyn: Bushwick Avenue, from Johnson Avenue to Flushing Avenue
  • Queens: 34th Avenue from 73rd Street to 80th Street
  • The Bronx: Grand Concourse from East Burnside to 184th Street

The mayor says the goal of this pilot project is to lessen the burden on other recreational sites as well as Central Park that have seen an influx of people lately as New Yorkers who are socially distancing get some fresh air, CBS2's Kiran Dhillon reported.

Many New Yorkers are all for it.

"Good for your mental health, you got to get out sometime," said Ben and Kelly Wexlar told Dhillon.

"Closing the streets really makes it easier to go out and do walking and practice social distancing," said Suzanne Shapiro.

PHOTO GALLERY: Life In New York City Under The Coronavirus

Still, some wonder if the open streets will just attract more people and lead to social distancing going out the window. But the mayor says the city will ensure people are keeping a safe distance from one another.

"Whether it's NYPD, Parks, whatever way we configure it that there will be enforcement at the locations," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

The pilot project goes until Monday, after which it will be reassessed.

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