GLOUCESTER — Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, Director of Public Works Michael Hale and Public Health Director Karin Carroll would like to share with residents the status of the City of Gloucester’s beaches and Stage Fort Park as the State prepares to enter Phase 2 of its Reopening Plan.
The City of Gloucester 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.
Gloucester’s beaches and Stage Fort Park opened for the season on Friday, May 22, as part of Phase 1. The status of all beaches in town remains the same, with the following exception:
- Good Harbor Beach will now be open to residents and a limited number of non-residents, at the discretion of the City, on a first come, first serve basis each day. Both Good Harbor Beach and Wingaersheek Beach parking lots will be at reduced capacity to limit number of beachgoers. The City’s DPW beach management team will monitor tide conditions, piping plover exclosures and capacity and may at any time further limit access to the beach.
The following regulations remain in effect:
- Wingaersheek Beach will remain open to residents and a limited number of non-residents.
- Stage Fort Park will remain open to the public. This includes Half Moon Beach.
- Niles Beach is a residential beach and will remain open to residents only.
- Plum Cove Beach is a residential beach and will remain open to residents only.
Parking at Good Harbor, Wingaersheek and Stage Fort Park: 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.
Parking at Niles and Plum Cove Beaches: 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. If residents do not have last year’s beach sticker and are still waiting for this years’ sticker, they should put their motor vehicle registration showing a Gloucester address on their dashboard to avoid being ticketed.
Follow Gloucester Beaches on Facebook for parking updates.
Lifeguards will be on duty at Good Harbor and Wingaersheek beaches, and 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 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 to continue to follow social distancing guidelines. 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 currently available by mail only for residents/resident seniors. Please download the application at www.gloucester-ma.gov. Mail the application or drop in the mailbox outside the doors of City Hall at the Warren Street entrance. Please read the instructions carefully, if there is missing paperwork it may delay the processing of your sticker. Processing may take up to two weeks.
If you need assistance filling out the application, or would like to check the status of an application please call 978-281-9708. Non-resident beach stickers will not be issued. All non-resident applications received will be returned.
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.