Just how masked is Tribeca?

A couple of neighbors have written to complain that local folks are not wearing masks on the street. It was my notion that they were — just from casual observation. But K. wrote that “many moms on HRP Mamas have written about this and it would be good to highlight and remind people to wear masks!”

I tried twice now to get 311 data on this, and no response yet. So here is my very unofficial study of the subject.

I walked around for an hour on two occasions for only this purpose, taking notes and counting: a Wednesday evening from 7:15 to 8:15, and a Thursday from 1 to 2. I just did a few laps on busy streets — or as busy as they get these days. In both cases, I ended my trip at Pier 25, where I stopped counting at the end of the pier. I didn’t count the bike path, the courts or the turf field, but in all three of those cases, park users are almost entirely unmasked. I also didn’t count people sitting at tables outside at restaurants, since obviously you can’t eat or drink with a mask on.

The results:

  • Wednesday evening: 213 (69 percent) with masks / 98 (31 percent) without
  • Thursday midday: 292 (77 percent) with masks / 89 (23 percent) without

As for observational profiling, the unmasked in the evening seemed to be mostly people in their late 20s, usually walking in pairs, runners — many of whom were in the street, not the sidewalk — and smokers. (Of course there’s a funny bedfellows thing in the correlation between the ones conditioning their lungs and the ones destroying them.) More than a few of the other unmasked were superannuated men, which was a bit of a shocker. Also watch out for skateboarders and women in long see-through sequin dresses.

I will also note there is a divide in the maskless between the flagrant and the lazy. The former make you want to kick them in the teeth when they seem to walk unnecessarily close, with their head held high. The latter seem to forget they have a mask hanging off one ear.



  1. Isn’t a mask required ONLY if you can’t social distance? For example, in a store, or on line, or near or in a group.

    • Thank you for highlighting that basic fact. Here’s the City’s confirmation of your point: https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/doh/downloads/pdf/imm/covid-19-face-covering-faq.pdf

    • Agreed and thank you for highlighting.

      Too many people are only reading the tweets and not the contents of the executive order. There is plenty of room these days to walk the streets, have a pleasant stroll, bike ride or run, without violating rules, people’s safe spaces, etc.

      Wear it for sure when it is required. It would certainly be disrespectful to walk through the sidewalk area where outdoor dining is occurring without. But if you’re enjoying the emptiness with only a few souls that are spacing themselves away from you, everyone can be spared the judgmental dirty looks and take a moment to read the rules.

      • The no mask comments are pretty cavalier. Many people without masks walk around and then go into the farmer’s market and stand next to others without masks. They also flout the please wear a mask signs at the stalls.

        You are helping everyone by a pretty simple action – wear the mask when out in public

  2. Yes, but also as you are passing people on the street. That’s why I didn’t count someone who was on the other side of the street and separate from others. But I did count them if I they were about to pass someone else or pass me.

  3. I find it’s easier just to wear the mask. Then I don’t forget to put it back on when I approach people.

    • I wear a very comfortable hinged shield with good air circulation outdoors. Much more comfortable than a mask and almost attractive without the foam band.

      Could you look at whether major stores like Whole Foods are ensuring compliance for staff and customers? On Friday I watched an unmasked customer talking to two staff behind the fish counter who had their noses uncovered, as did a number of other staff and customers. At least one other customer was unmasked. I’ve also seen staff with masks below their chins. Given the concern about aerosols, this could be a problem indoors. Thanks.

  4. One guy told me from two feet away that he pulls his mask up over his face when he is within 6 feet of someone.

  5. A woman without a mask in my elevator in IPN standing right under the “masks required”sign called me a fuc_ing bi_ch” for calling her out on it. I waited for the next elevator. Sad that folks can’t cover their face in elevators in our towers