GLOUCESTER — Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, Director of Public Works Michael Hale and Public Health Director Karin Carroll report that the City of Gloucester will close all beach parking lots to non-residents this weekend.
The decision to close the parking lots to non-residents on Saturday, July 18 and Sunday, July 19 follows numerous resident complaints of excessive trafficthis past weekend.
“The last thing we want to do is close our parking lots to visitors, but our City was had an influx of traffic this past weekend,” Mayor Romeo Theken said. “We need to reduce the amount of traffic, which is a challenge we face every year but has certainly been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. More people are understandably looking to get outside after staying home for months to reduce risk of exposure to the virus, but that has meant traffic is worse and it isn’t a sustainable situation for our residents.”
“This issue is exacerbated as well by the limitations people have on travel, which means more people are taking day trips,” Carroll said. “However, it’s critical we ensure there is plenty of space for social distancing on the beach and that residents can go about their daily lives.”
Additionally, high tide is expected to take place early in the day Saturday and Sunday, at 10:21 a.m. and 11:07 a.m. respectively according to US Harbors, a factor which significantly reduces the area of beach available for visitors, particularly at Good Harbor and Half Moon Beaches. At Good Harbor, a portion of the beach is also sectioned off as conservation land for Piping Plovers.
This poses a significant challenge as people continue to practice social distancing to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. Beach goers are asked to maintain a minimum of 12 feet of distance between toweling and blanket areas.
All parking lots to public beaches will be closed to non-residents this weekend, including the lots at Stage Fort Park, Good Harbor Beach and Wingaersheek Beach. Residents will be able to gain entry with a 2020 beach sticker, 2019 beach sticker, or if they are still waiting to receive their 2020 sticker, a license and registration with a Gloucester address.
The City of Gloucester will make an announcement next week whether the beach parking lots will be re-opened to non residents for the weekend of July 25-26.
Gloucester’s public beaches are currently open to a limited number of non-residents, and visitors to the area will still be permitted to park at public beach parking lots in Gloucester on weekdays, for the time being.
Additional city staff will be working at the Stage Fort Park, Good Harbor Beach and Wingaersheek Beach parking lots to ensure non-residents do not park there this weekend.
All beachgoers are reminded of 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 prevent 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 will be deep-cleaned and disinfected frequently.
- Beach visitors shall follow social distancing guidelines 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 when they are unable to maintain a social distance from others. They will additionally be advised to frequently wash their hands for a minimum of 20 seconds.
Beach visitors are also asked to review all signage before entering the beach to ensure rules and regulations will not be inadvertently violated.
This is the first in a series of measures that will be implemented to address beach parking and traffic concerns.
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