Some NYC beaches could face limited access due to lifeguard shortage

NYC beaches will officially open this Saturday for Memorial Day weekend, but access could be limited at some due to a lifeguard shortage

The national shortage has once again arrived in the region, and there simply are not enough lifeguards to patrol all 14 miles of the city's beaches. 

According to the city, it has secured only about 230 of the 600 lifeguards needed to fully staff the beaches. In some places, red flags will wave and people are urged not to swim in those areas. 


NYC beaches set to open for Memorial Day weekend

Beginning May 25, all city-run beaches across the five boroughs will be open and free to the public, through September 8.

"There are some beaches that will have shortened hours or may not even be able to have a full complement because we have a life, a national lifeguard problem that we're trying to resolve here in the city," said NYC Mayor Eric Adams.

Color-coded signs

Each beach will be classified based on its sanitary conditions. Color-coded signs will indicate the status of each beach:

  • Open: Swimming and wading permitted (Green sign)
  • Advisory: Swimming and wading permitted but not recommended (Yellow sign)
  • Closed: Swimming and wading not permitted (Red sign)


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NYC lifeguard salary

The national shortage, as well as the city's extensive 16-week training program make finding lifeguards difficult. In response, Parks Commissioner Sue Donohue told reporters New York has sweetened the pot. 

"We increased lifeguard pay to $22 an hour, so that's really competitive," she said. "It's a great summer job and returning lifeguards also receive a $1,000 retention bonus."

Even so, Donohue predicts the city won't get anywhere near the 1,500 lifeguards it would like to have. While beaches open this weekend, pools won't open until next month.

When do NYC beaches open?

Beginning Saturday, all city-run beaches across the city will be open and free to the public and remain accessible through September 8. Lifeguards will be on duty daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

You can check the status of NYC beaches by using the Health Department's beach water quality map

For those looking to explore beyond the city, information on New York state beaches is available HERE.