More Than 700 Social Distancing Complaints Made on the Upper West Side, But No Summonses or Arrests

Social distancing at the Reservoir. Photo by Sandy.

Not everyone is following social distancing and mask-wearing rules, and that’s clearly upset a lot of other people who are being more careful. (We’ve been getting a lot of emails about this issue.)

The Legal Aid Society compiled data on 311 complaints made in police precincts across the city in order to examine the enforcement of the new rules. The data covered the period from March 28 through May 12. On the Upper West Side, there were 305 complaints in the 20th precinct, which covers 59th to 86th Street, and 443 complaints in the 24th precinct, which covers 86th to 110th Street.

On a per-capita basis, that’s actually a relatively low rate, with 28.77 complaints per 10,000 people in the 20th and 43.25 per 10,000 in the 24th. In one midtown precinct, by comparison, there have been 120.11 complaints per 10,000 people. In several other parts of the city, there are also rates above 70 per 10,000.

There haven’t been any summonses or arrests for social distancing violations on the UWS, though there have been in other parts of the city. In general on the UWS, police have tried to deal with the rules by encouraging people to wear masks and stay apart.

That fact is one reason the Legal Aid Society says that the law is being applied in a discriminatory manner: “18 of the 20 precincts with the highest rates of known COVID-19 related arrests or summonses per 10,000 people occurred in majority Black or Latino precincts,” the group says, even though less than half of the complaints occurred in neighborhoods where the majority of residents are Black or Hispanic.

NEWS, OUTDOORS | 87 comments | permalink
    1. Carol says:

      Yes. The only safe spaces these days – inside our apartment or our car. Too many selfish knuckleheads out there who don’t care about the greater good.

      • Upper Wuhanside says:

        Gotta love all of these people in this comment section who choose to label others who don’t wear masks. These are the same people who need to calm down and keep to themselves by staying home at all times to let the rest of us take care of ourselves.

        1. Masks are ONLY required in PUBLIC when one can NOT maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet from another person who is not within the same household. Masks ARE required when in stores at ALL times.

        2. Most of the people in this comment section who are complaining about “younger folks” should state who they deem as “younger.” Seems to me, that every single time some “older” person (65+) walks by me with a phone, taking a picture or stating some misunderstood fact based unsolicited advice should mind their own business, stay home and come outside when this is over. Tired of these “get off my lawn” people. These are the same people who call 311 because they assume the people who are standing together are not household members or from their “view” they assume 6ft is not being maintained between people.

        3. Read points 1 and 2 above, over and over again.

    2. Doug Garr says:

      The idiots who run by you in Riverside Park without a mask and the cyclists that refuse to obey a “dismount” sign are the ones who really piss me off.

      • Boris says:

        You’re not going to get infected by someone who runs by you briefly outside in a park. That’s what current science says. I don’t know what your anxiety is based on.

        What the relevance of cyclists not dismounting to this article? Aside from being bitter, you also sound petty.

        • Elaine Toth says:

          Agree with Boris.
          Stop acting like Cuomo babies!
          His brother rode a bike without a mask!!!

      • Ethan says:

        Agreed, the non-walkers (cyclists, runners) are consistently the worst offenders, in my experience. We need an effective and safe way to call them out, to shame them publicly.

    3. Suzie E says:

      In an aside from the article — how do they ticket people in the park, like runners, if they don’t have ID on them?

      • We all in this together. says:

        Perhaps it’s time to carry ID. Suppose they collapse or anything. Carry cellphone you can carry ID. Elementary. Like washing your hands and wearing a Mask.

        It’s a pandemic it don’t care or discriminate.
        Grown people need to grow tf up.

        • Chris says:

          There is no ID law that’s why you can vote with no ID. So one does not have to produce an ID to anyone In NYC

    4. L. Braverman says:

      I don’t wear a mask outdoors.

      I walk a lot, for miles; I’ve long figured it’s in the air, so I’d pick some up, my immune system would realize it’s a pathogen and deal with it, and I’d therefore develop some immunity to it, as opposed to getting a sudden direct blast over a dinner table, or from a face to face talk. A direct blast like that early on might’ve overwhelmed my immune defenses before they’d initially dealt with it. Now I’m probably okay.

      Anyway, that’s my theory of the case, how herd immunity develops over time.

      Mostly I hate masks; I can’t breath when I wear them (I don’t breathe that well even w/o a mask, due to nasal problems; deviated septum, post nasal drip etc. I often need Breathe Right Nasal Strips just to sleep, & coincidentally I’m wearing one right now), my face gets hot wearing a mask & after wearing one for 10 minutes or so, I start to get yet another migraine.

      I’ll wear a mask going into a store because that’s the law, but I race to get my business done & then it’s out the door & rip that thing off to imbibe some cool, refreshing air.

      And yes, I stay away from people. I live alone & everyone on my floor has fled.

      I do get dirty looks, and once, a Trader Joe’s employee asked me to put on a mask while on his line, outside. I told him the law was on my side and his response was to keep me 12 FEET away from the other people before and after me on line. Well, I’m sympathetic to his fear, so I let him do that, & without protest.

      I do what I can, but a migraine every day from following a galaxy of constantly changing rules and suggestions? That’s no way to live.

      • David S says:

        Where’d you get your degree in epidemiology? Does the diploma say “Trump University”, by chance?

      • C M says:

        “That’s no way to live.” Yes, in normal times. But this is an unprecedented viral pandemic that we’re still learning about. Pardon the “changes” as we struggle to tweak our public health response. Embrace your new normal. You’re not going to get any migraines, but you’re doing your part to keep people alive and healthy.

      • Paul says:

        Wearing a mask isn’t about you. It’s about protecting people from you.

        • Dennis says:

          I’m not responsible for anyone’s protection. It is your own responsibility to take care of yourself. If you have anxiety and fear, don’t make it mine. Stay home until you feel safe.

      • Someone who cares says:

        Stay home you are a problem professor.
        CDC would like to know your solution to the problem 😜. Since you know so much

      • suzieMom says:

        Try cotton masks – , try anything that will keep you from killing other people….

      • Tim says:

        Braverman, you make too much sense for the hysterical virtue-signallers, seriously. People will eventually be exposed to the Wuhan flu whether they like it or not. Gradually being exposed to it naturally (ala walking, being around other people, etc) or being vaccinated eventually will expose them to it and allow their immune system to recognize it and develop the antigens to combat it. And fwiw, the vast majority of people contracting the virus and suffering symptoms are 60+ yrs old. If the elderly want to hide under their beds til who-knows-when, fine. But don’t expect ALL of society to shutdown indefinitely to allay their hysteria.

        • Paul says:

          Again with the illogical disconnect: if you’re really concerned with getting things going, you’d support wearing a mask.

      • james brummel says:

        You don’t know what you are talking about. Your opinion is uninformed and meaningless.
        The risk of the disease outweighs the inconvenience of wearing a mask, even if it is worn in marginal situations.

    5. Lynn says:

      I would say that about 50% of the people on the streets in the Columbia neighborhood are not wearing masks or letting them hang below their chins. It would be much worse if school were in session. I am almost always the one to step aside even though I am walking a dog, and on the older side. I also have to refrain from saying anything becuase the non-mask wearer is often pretty abusive.

      • ... says:

        The non-mask wearer is abusive to you? The person they’re walking with? Or is that just an assumption you’re making

    6. mh says:

      Send more police to the UWS! It’s shocking and disappointing (not to mention illegal) to see SO many people making NO effort at social distancing and not wearing masks ! It drives me crazy (and can make people sick). Hello?

    7. Safe Car says:

      Thank goodness for our car. It is the only place we feel safe besides inside our home.

    8. Sal says:

      Beware, Westside Market at 110th and Broadway. The Instacart shoppers were practically stepping on me to get to items. Going the wrong way in aisles and trying to reach across the handful of regular shoppers to fill their orders. On a weekday morning about 5 regular shoppers and twenty Instacart people not socially distancing

    9. Stephanie says:

      Was running in park( with mask on) and saw many people in SheeP Meadow without masks and not practicing social distancing. Police did absolutely nothing about it. They sat in their cars drinking coffee. They do not wear masks nor do they practice social distancing when talking with each other. What kind of example are they setting?!

    10. Karen L. Bruno says:

      Masks don’t work, get over it!

      • suzieMom says:

        not true – read the research!!
        They work both to protect you (that’s why docs & nurses wear the, – and they protect others…don’t be a dumbell…just wear one.

          • Beth says:

            For those of you who don’t think masks are effective (and for talking points for those of you who do), please read this article – Amid the Coronavirus Crisis, a Regimen for Reëntry by Dr. Atul Gowande. You can find it online.

          • Don't take medical advice from anonymous sources says:

            You’re mischaracterizing the research – which isn’t original research but a meta-analysis of previously conducted studies:

            “Cloth masks are ineffective as source control and PPE, surgical masks have some role to play in preventing emissions from infected patients, and respirators are the best choice for protecting healthcare and other frontline workers, but not recommended for source control. These recommendations apply to pandemic and non-pandemic situations.”

            • Telling people to wear masks is medical advice says:

              Nobody should be wearing respirators. There’s a shortage.

              You’re all clapping for the “front line workers” at 7pm…why are you stealing their PPE?

              I see a lot of smug people walking their dogs around here while wearing professional medical equipment.

      • Sylvia says:

        Karen, I think you are right. This imposition about masks, and even social distancing, seems over-blown. Sure masks and social distancing help, but the corona virus lurks everywhere, and in the end, we cannot avoid the corona virus. It is going to get us all some way or another – either now or later. The important way to manage the corona virus is through contact tracing. This method is complicated and involves trained people to carry it out. In the meantime, we have to play the mask and social distance charade to make us feel we have some control. But, really, we do not have control, at least via wearing masks and via social distancing. This is my opinion only.

    11. Juan Perez says:

      Governor Cuomo’s order states “that masks must be worn on subways, buses, stores and where social distancing is ” impossible ” you are not “required” to wear a mask outside as long as you are not within a crowd of people. People whom are complaining need to read the Governor’s Executive Order. By the way, I read a complaint about people jogging and not wearing a mask. They do not need to wear one, as long as they are six feet away from the next person.

      • Social Distancing says:

        Juan, well said!

      • SK says:

        @Juan Perez
        You’re incorrect. Per Govenor Cuomo’s website, as of May 22nd, 2020, everyone needs to wear a mask in public.
        Governor Cuomo issued executive orders 202.17 and 202.18 requiring all people in New York to wear masks or face coverings in public, including when taking public or private transportation or riding in for-hire vehicles.

        • UWSlider says:

          Juan is correct. From The NY Times. Fauci and Birx say the same.

          New York Orders Residents to Wear Masks in Public

          Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said all New Yorkers must wear face coverings when social distancing is not possible, including on public transport, in stores and on crowded sidewalks.

      • Uwsider says:

        In a crowded park like Riverside on a nice day it is impossible for a runner not to be well within six feet of tons of people.

      • BJK says:

        Juan is right and SK is wrong. The executive order applies to “when in a public place and unable to maintain, or when not maintaining, social distance.” Just being in public (e.g., a park) is not enough. If you can And do socially distance, you’re fine without a mask. (Plus the special rules for public and for-hire private transport.)

    12. MeInWhySee says:

      So… NYPD is all “No big deal, folks” when it comes to recklessly endangering the public by potentially playing a role in the spread of a deadly disease, but a 67-year-old African American writes 12 characters in chalk on a boarded-up building and is immediately (and roughly) arrested? What’s wrong with this picture???

    13. Freedom-Man says:

      Nothing would make me happier than if the first 7 commenters on this page would stay locked up in their homes forever.

      Pure heaven.

      • UWSider1974tillnow says:

        Amen, Freedom Man

      • Seasoned Citizen says:

        Those of us who were young once understand the sentiment. We get it. Older vulnerable folks should stay home so younger less vulnerable people can return to their lives. No doubt it’s been hard on everyone. It’d be nice if there were more courtesy about it.

    14. Elizabeth Joplyn says:

      If people feel safe in a mask … great. I refuse to wear one outside. We need oxygen& we have immune systems. Constant mask wearing is very bad for you. Look it up. I understand it’s needed in a crowded store, on a subway etc. Outdoors? Look at the insert on the package… it says it won’t protect you from COVID. Get out. Get sun. If you are immune compromised or old by all means, protect yourself. Ignorance is rampant on the UWS. Research people. Nurses& doctors debunk this mask theory.

      • Paul says:

        Interesting that you follow your basically ignorant remark with the phrase “ignorance is rampant…”
        The masks are to protect others from you, not for you to protect yourself.

      • CrazyDNP says:

        Nurses and doctors debunk this theory? Where did you come up with that? We ALL wear masks when we are seeing patients and we have the patients wear them too. Masks are not foolproof but they do help.

      • nycityny says:

        “We have immune systems.” Great, so did the over 350,000 people worldwide who have died from Covid 19 in the past few months. Somehow Covid managed to bypass their immune systems – “funny” how that happens.

        It’s really simple. The virus is expelled out of the nose and mouth. The virus is absorbed through the nose and mouth. Put mask in front of nose and mouth of expeller and inhaler and greatly reduce the risk of transmission.

        What’s so complicated and controversial about that?

      • your_neighbor says:

        Thank you for your sanity Elizabeth. I too will put on a mask to enter a store but will not wear one just walking on the sidewalk or in the park.

        Even though the peak of the hospitalizations was 7 weeks ago people are still totally freaking out with no regard to the economic pain.

        If you are obese, have diabetes, have severe respiratory or heart issues or if you live in a nursing home you should be careful and perhaps wear an N95 all day.

        Please take care of yourselves as you see fit but don’t depend on others to do it for you, especially since this panic has brought the economy to its knees and will bankrupt countless small businesses and cause years of economic suffering for millions of the young and the working poor.

        • Paul says:

          Excuse me, “your neighbor,” but your comment is completely illogical. Don’t you understand that wearing masks for our mutual protection will increase people’s confidence and thereby increase economic activity?
          You say ‘don’t depend on others’ for your safety but then if no one wears masks the only way we can protect ourselves is to stay home and let our community’s businesses die.

          Could you not be,
          would you not be,
          won’t you not be,
          my neighbor?

    15. Pork Chop says:

      Our decision to escape to Florida in mid-March seems to have been the right one. Density is low, people stay away from each other (at least in our county – I know things can be different in urban/party areas on the Atlantic coast), and most people wear masks. Comically, many wear masks while driving.

      I don’t think we will be coming back. After almost 20 years in NYC I’m finally ready to bid the place adieu. In a certain sense I was ready since day one, but have only now accepted what’s been true all along.

      • Minx says:

        How does this contribute to the discussion here at all, except to give yourself a pat on the back for the privilege of having options that most people don’t have…

        • Pork Chop says:

          I worked hard for my options. Everyone is welcome to do so: that’s the American dream. I came to this country as a juvenile immigrant and bootstrapped myself from nothing. No one helped me, no one let me ride their coattails to any kind of “privilege”.

          The concept of privilege is fake news. Those who want to succeed, will. Everyone else will keep crying.

    16. Boris says:

      Recent and ongoing scientific and medical guidance has indicated that many of the concerns and actions of people are in the overdone zone. Many people haven’t altered their behavior despite new information. I feel sorry for the people who won’t leave their homes without a hat, coat, and gloves just to take a walk. It’s not likely that these people will ever return to a sense of normalcy.

    17. 75th Street denizen says:

      There’s lots of room to social distance on 75th Street.
      It’s closed to traffic and not a single pedestrian there either of the two times I was there today. Completely empty. No people. No traffic. A slice of Montana here in the UWS.

    18. Dana Ivey says:

      I walked by a couple in Riverside Park. The man’s mask was under his chin. And he sneezed badly — twice, and did not sneeze into his elbow or shoulder. I said, “Put your mask over your face.” He called me names as they walked towards the exit.

      • Abdul Sayeed says:

        The people who are intentionally violating social norms or requirements are living (existing?) at a super high level of aggression, more specifically, passive aggression. Examples abound everywhere in our fair city: people refusing to wear masks in tight spaces, people driving cars with intentionally altered mufflers so their cars disturb everyone for five blocks, dog owners who flout the scooper-law, and the list goes on and on and on.
        In nearly all cases, attempting to school these anti-social people with a request such as “Put your mask over your face,” as in your example, will not only be futile but will also reap a display of overt aggression – the finger and whatnot – from the perpertrator. Instead of the guilt or shame, which they should feel (the sort of emotions which would have prevented their original passive-aggressive actions), they express anger. Pretty basic.
        My solution is to immediately shout at them this single word: “Egotist!” Then, when they give me the finger, I’m ready with, “Your egotism has already f…ed you!”
        It’s not the greatest solution – there is none – but whether they understand it or not, I almost always get in the last word.

    19. Zara says:

      We live on the Upper West Side, 96th and Central Park West. People are not following discipline here! There are no police around. It’s mainly the young. Selfish, reckless. Masks worn half-way as a face adornment. Jogging, running walking – no masks, forget the gloves. Many not practising social distancing either. We have had to walk onto streets or make way or walk even single file, as these selfish absurd brats take up much space (when walking in groups or if a couple). It’s disgusting and selfish. Send the police and have the police fine them!!!
      In Central Park, police were handing out masks (to whites btw). Hand them summons not masks! Meanwhile blacks and Latinos are targeted and fined?? What the bloody is that all about? These people don’t give a toss. We need police here!!!

    20. UWSer says:

      The executive orders and state and city guidance clearly state that masks are required in outdoor public spaces only where social distancing (6 feet) cannot be practiced. And of the published science suggests wearing a mask while your are social distancing has no additional effect.

    21. F.N. says:

      For folks who have difficulty breathing with masks, consider shields. They are effective and not obstruct breathing.

    22. JS says:

      Most people seem to be wearing masks.
      Ironically the ones who are not masked – youngish couples talking as they walk….

    23. Veronica says:

      What’s the big deal. We are currently in the middle of a public health emergency. When in public, wear a mask. If this is too difficult or you do not understand and appreciate this, then you shouldn’t be out among people at all.

    24. Diane says:

      My non-professional, unscientific understanding is that a mask protects others from disease. Wearing a mask is a sign that you care about the health and well-being of others.

      It’s a gesture of respect and courtesy.

      When the President of this country disdains mask wearing, mocking it as ‘politically correct’, no wonder other, thoughtless people are eager to follow his example.

      I wear a mask whenever I’m out. Politically correct? You bet. And proud of it.

      • uwsgrl says:

        Yes, exactly, wearing a mask is a common courtesy to others who may be more vulnerable than you are. Unfortunately many people have lost all sense of common courtesy. Yes, masks suck, everyone can agree on that. But if we can save other people’s lives by simply wearing a mask when we are out, how selfish do you have to be not to do that?!

        • Ethan says:

          Thank you, uwsgrl, for the wisdom of your words. Not wearing a mask outdoors is sociopathic behavior: the non-wearers and non-distancers delight in intimidating those who do wear and do distance. They need to be called out; shamed publicly.

        • Boris says:

          Let me remind you that nothing has changed since this virus has emerged. People have always cared more about themselves than the health and safety of others. Don’t understand why so many people are surprised. People are generally selfish and self-centered.

    25. NYWoman says:

      Newest Airborne transmission studies discovered 10 feet distance vs. 6 feet is best; fresh air obviously dilutes infection, and inside well ventilated/circulating air is necessary. 10% of infectious people cause 80% of infections. Some who refuse to wear a mask secretly enjoy the power of having the ability to kill or disable others, but call it ‘my rights’.

      • Boris says:

        That article didn’t say that about distancing. It said that 6′ is GOOD but 10′ is BETTER.

    26. S. Hayes says:

      Beautifully stated Diane. Those of us fortunate to be married to a physician, nurse et al know that masks represent respect for their efforts to keep us all safe. They help.
      Not wearing a mask is at best passive aggressive toward health care workers. At worst it’s a middle finger. No excuses.
      They know what they are doing, and saying.
      So when you’re on that line, or in that store and not wearing a mask the people around you wearing a mask respect you, but wish you would listen to Dr. Fauci for the greater good. P.S. once you enter the world of a doctor’s office or hospital with a complaint,
      don’t try demonstrating your dislikes there…it will not be received as generously as on the street. Know that.

    27. Tim says:

      To everyone on this thread upset over improper mask wearing, have you looked at our numbers recently? They continue to go down.

    28. Sammy says:

      I’ll wear a mask outside when they stop people from smoking outside. Until then no.

    29. Claire says:

      At this point, the outside world should be for people who have moved on with our lives.

      If you are old, sick, paranoid etc stay inside.

    30. Claire says:

      Does no realize that this had been spreading for months before lockdown!? Probably in January. You have been exposed already – since it is so contagious. We need reliable antibody testing, free for everyone.

      • Tim says:

        Thank you for your logic and critical thinking Claire. Some people would rather virtue-signal than consider actual science. By some people’s logic, everybody should wear masks forever, you know, if they really cared about their neighbors. The curve flattened weeks ago and there are plenty of hospital beds and ventilators now. It’s time to stop being hysterical.

    31. Marci says:

      I had issues with feeling breathless when wearing a mask, but then I bought ones that have carbon filters, and that’s made a big difference for me.

    32. ST says:

      On my block, construction goes on as “essential” (snort). The coarsest workers show up all day every day. NO masks. And SPITTING.

    33. GiGi says:

      I am truly appalled at how many grown adults, including a woman with her baby, are drinking alcohol out of plastic cups or saucers,standing right next to each other, sitting on the stoops, or on the pavement, not wearing masks or social distancing in a very concentrated area on West 71st between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West and on Columbus Avenue between 71st and 70th making it almost impossible for people who are wearing masks to be able to social distance themselves from these irresponsible selfish people and walk up or down the street. One time I did see a police car stop to buy pizza and they did nothing. Once when I called 311 I was told that the police had to be assigned to that particular block…that’s ludicrous – I never heard of such a thing. They are not only placing themselves in danger, they are placing everyone around them in danger and it’s not right. I made two complaints and nothing was done. If they want to drink outside, fine, but at least social distance, wear face coverings and/or go to the park or take the drinks home and party with each other there!

    34. rs says:

      Read this for some science on risk in various environments, especially outdoors (scroll down to “So back to the original thought of my post”).

    35. joe says:

      Over 80% of deaths in NYS are people over 65 and 90% of deaths are people with another serious health condition. Why are we not focusing on keeping these people safe and separate from the general population? If I were part of this group I certainly would not be shopping every day at Fairway.
      btw, if we had more people jogging we would have fewer people dying from COVID or heart disease.

    36. Eric says:

      As of today NYC has only a fraction of what is needed to claim herd immunity, but nothing will dissuade the ‘well how are we ever going to get there if we keep protecting ourselves’ crowd.

      Fine. Get together without masks. In fact, get CLOSELY together.. with a LOT of friends that feel as you do. Hug, kiss, talk face-to-face. Run side-by-side taking deep breaths and exhaling strongly. Stupid me will be cowering and keeping my masked distance but those of you that beat the viral odds can have a mighty laugh at us frightened fools. Those of you that only get mildly sick can shrug it off and say ‘that wasn’t so bad after all’. And those of you who get VERY sick can commiserate from the ICU with your like-minded revelers in the Ozarks as your oxygen levels plummet and you struggle to breathe. It’s all just a pulmonary roulette wheel right?

      And the next time you go to a hospital, be sure to let the attending physician and nursing staff know that you felt all of that wear-a-mask-stuff was a crock so that you can get a good demonstration of how they will still treat you with care and professionalism despite the fact that you are so much smarter than they are.

    37. Ruth says:

      The owners of Boxkite coffee on W.72nd sit in the entrance of the minuscule shop with a laptop, for hours, without masks. Every customer and employee is exposed to and/or exposing them to Covid-19.

    38. Denali Boy says:

      Reading comments is sad but true reflection of all views of pandemic safety from the nut jobs to those seriously following medical guidelines re how disease transmitted, masks, distancing etc. No point in sharing my views because it’s a waste of time. Bottom line: just assume everyone will act inappropriately and view it as a Festivus miracle when people act appropriately/responsibly. My wife and I abandoned West 79th Street for a state with 400 cases and 10 deaths. Many New Yorkers are one step removed from the pool parties in the Ozarks or those drawn to the beaches in Florida. Be safe

    39. Gloria J Roberts says:

      I live on the upper westside and some if the people that live over on Central Park love nothing more than cause trouble for minorities they like to make complaints where there are none because they are racist and think minorities shouldn’t be living on the upper west side. I know because I see it all the time. I think giving people the right to complain is opening up racism in communities where people are various races.

    40. Lagger Heads says:

      There is no lack of citations about science-y stuff which is then countermanded by other science-y stuff. Everybody’s a maven. Whadda mess.

    41. Dom says:

      What do you expect? New Yorkers wear their defiance as a laughable social badge of honor. Half-baked justifications for idiocy and carelessness has become the NYC way of life.