GLOUCESTER — Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, Director of Public Works Michael Hale and Public Health Director Karin Carroll announce the City of Gloucester’s phase 1 reopening plan for welcoming the public back to the City’s beaches and Stage Fort Park as the warm weather arrives.
“I am proud that our city’s leadership team has developed a plan that incorporates responsible procedures and guidance that will allow people to safely enjoy our beautiful beaches this summer,” Mayor Romeo Theken said. “We ask that everyone adheres to the rules in place to keep people safe and healthy so that our beaches can hopefully remain open, even at a health-conscious reduced capacity, until further notice.”
The City of Gloucester has aligned its reopening plan for City beaches and Stage Fort Park with the state’s safety and reopening standards during Phase 1 for coastal and inland beaches throughout Massachusetts. To read the state’s guidelines, click here.
All of Gloucester’s beaches and Stage Fort Park will be open on Friday, May 22 — Memorial Day Weekend. This phase is anticipated to end June 8, but could be extended or amended. Each reopening phase will be evaluated frequently and changes may occur mid-phase, such as strengthening or loosening restrictions. See below for guidance regarding limited access to specific areas.
Gloucester Phase One Beach & Stage Fort Park Access
- Good Harbor Beach will be open to city residents ONLY, at a reduced capacity. Parking will be open to residents only with a 2019/2020 beach parking sticker or valid motor vehicle registration and license with a Gloucester address for entry. Residents must follow the lot attendant’s instructions on where to park.
- Wingaersheek Beach will open to residents and a limited number of non-residents, on a first come, first serve basis each day. Residents will be required to have a 2019/2020 beach parking sticker or valid motor vehicle registration and license with a Gloucester address for entry. Non-residents will be required to pay daily parking rates. Cash only, exact change preferred. All visitors must follow the lot attendant’s instructions on where to park. To view parking rates, click here.
- Stage Fort Park will open to the public. This includes Half Moon Beach. Residents will be required to have a 2019/2020 beach parking sticker or valid motor vehicle registration and license with a Gloucester address for entry. Non-residents will be required to pay daily parking rates. Cash only, exact change preferred.To view parking rates, click here.
- Niles Beach is a residential beach and will remain open to residents only. Parking along Niles Beach is available for residents only with a 2019/2020 beach parking sticker. No parking will be available on Farrington Avenue for beach access and this will be enforced by the Gloucester Police Department.
- Plum Cove Beach is a residential beach and will remain open to residents only. Parking will be available to residents only with a 2019/2020 beach parking sticker.
Lifeguards will be on duty at Good Harbor and Wingaersheek beaches beginning on Friday, May 22, and at Half Moon beach on Saturday, May 23. Lifeguards will be on duty at other city beaches beginning June 20 (Father’s Day Weekend).
All beachgoers must adhere to the following guidance from City officials:
- Face coverings, under state order, are required in all public spaces where social distancing, remaining a minimum of six feet from others, is not feasible. This rule does not extend to children under the age of two or those with specified medical conditions that disallow them from wearing a face covering. Masks and face coverings are not required when swimming.
- Groups of more than 10 people are prohibited.
- Visitors to Gloucester beaches are required to maintain social distancing. Everyone must maintain at least 12 feet of distance between toweling and blanket areas.
- Visitors must take with them all trash, recyclables and other items that they bring onto the beach.
- Organized ball games are not permitted at this time, including volleyball, Kan Jam, spikeball, football, soccer, Kadima and bocce.
- Walking access ways from parking lots to beaches may be designated as single file to enter and exit the beach. Moving traffic only will be permitted in these areas, no standing.
Gloucester Beaches will operate as follows:
- A minimum of six feet shall be maintained between lifeguards, lifeguard stands and the public unless there is an emergency.
- At Good Harbor and Wingaersheek Beaches restrooms will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. There will also be four portable toilets as well. Stage Fort Park will have two portable toilets available at the Cupboard Restaurant and four near the Visitor’s Center. Bathroom facilities will be cleaned hourly and frequently will be deep-cleaned and disinfected.
- Beach visitors shall follow social distancing when standing in bathroom lines and follow any established visual guidelines for maintaining a six foot distance in all restroom facilities.
- Lot attendants and lifeguards will wear face coverings and gloves. They will additionally be advised to frequently wash their hands for a minimum of 20 seconds.
There will be no police enforcement on the beaches; it is not the responsibility of city staff, lifeguards or police to enforce social distancing or the wearing of masks and face coverings. However, if it becomes clear to City Officials that social distancing and other guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is not being followed, the City may close its beaches or further limit access.
In other words, the City of Gloucester does not intend to go person-to-person ensuring that everyone is following public health guidelines, however if in the judgement of public health and safety officials, these guidelines are being wantonly ignored and public health is in danger, the beaches will be closed.
Beach visitors are asked to review all signage before entering the beach to ensure rules and regulations will not be inadvertently violated.
“It’s the public’s responsibility to do continue to follow the guidance and restrictions that have been put in place for their wellbeing as well as the health and safety of others,” Carroll said. “We urge residents and visitors: maintain social distance. Wear a face covering when social distancing isn’t feasible. Please do the right thing, so that we can keep reducing the spread of this virus and move forward with reopening, safely.”
Beach parking stickers are available for residents/resident seniors only at this time. Applications will need to be downloaded from the City’s website here and mailed to the P.O. box listed at the top of the form for processing. Those with questions regarding sticker eligibility can email [email protected] or call 978-281-9708. Inquiries will be answered within two business days. Due to high volume of applications, processing may take up to two weeks. Residents can enter parking facilities using last years’ parking sticker or a current valid motor vehicle registration and license with a Gloucester address until this season’s sticker is available.
Non-resident beach stickers will not be sold this year. Daily parking rates will apply for all non-residents. Temporary beach stickers/vouchers are unavailable.
The City additionally reminds residents and visitors that the following activities and items are banned on public and residential beach property in Gloucester:
- Smoking or vaping
- Flotation devices
- Surf boards
- Tents or shelters with the exception of sun shades or umbrellas
- Radios, portable stereos, so-called boom boxes, etc.
- Alcoholic beverages
- Bottle and glass containers
- Open fires of any type
Residents and visitors are also reminded that recent ordinances have been changed to protect wildlife, and it is forbidden to disturb, harass, harbor or feed seagulls, waterfowls or crows directly or indirectly at any beach or other public property. Additionally, there is an endangered/threatened wildlife buffer zone at Good Harbor Beach, and violations to that area are subject to a $300 fine.