Long Island Beaches Will Have Social Distancing Rules This Summer

Jones Beach
Jones Beach State Park is the biggest draw, but not only thing to see on Jones Beach Island. (WikiMedia)

Beaches on Long Island will be open for the unofficial start of beach season on Memorial Day weekend, but there will be restrictions designed to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that beaches across New York State — including those on Long Island — will be open, but will keep capacity to 50 percent, no group sports will be allowed, playgrounds will remain closed, and masks will be required in areas where social distancing is not possible. 

The state is joining New Jersey, Connecticut, and Delaware in reopening beaches, aiming to prevent people from crossing state borders for a respite from the coronavirus lockdown.

“If we don’t open our beaches people will go to New Jersey beaches, I promise you that,” Cuomo said, adding with exaggeration that he wanted to prevent “4 million New Yorkers” from heading to New Jersey or Connecticut to get some sun.

Suffolk County is opening its ocean beaches at Cupsogue County Beach in Westhampton and Smith Point County Park in Shirley, although not all facilities will be open by Memorial Day. Smaller passive county-run oceanfront parks such as Shinnecock East and Montauk County Park will remain open, as they have been, without lifeguards.

“Beaches are a part of the fabric of life here on Long Island,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said. “This virus has taken much from us, we couldn’t allow it to take away our ability to go to the beaches this summer.”

Nassau County officials are opening Nickerson Beach Park in Lido to swimmers, with lifeguards on duty. Long Island town- and village-run beaches will have to separately submit their plans for reopening to the state for approval. Many smaller beaches remain closed or have strict rules in place.

“Most residents don’t really care if it’s a county beach or a town beach, so we want to make sure we’re doing this in a way that causes the least amount of confusion,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.

“It’s not gonna be exactly the same as summer’s past,” Bellone added. “But we can go to our beaches, we can be there with our families, we can go into the water and enjoy that, and we can do that in a safe way.”

-With Reuters

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