GLOUCESTER — Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, Police Chief Edward Conley and Harbormaster TJ Ciarametaro are urging boaters to follow the state’s reopening guidance to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure.
City officials are also asking the public to boat responsibly following a rise in boating accidents and reports of illegal activity including underage drinking and boating under the influence.
Statewide boating, marine and inland waterway guidance amid COVID-19 was amended on Tuesday, urging people to limit rafting-up or tying-up boats to a maximum of three vessels. To read the full guidance for boaters during phase three of the state’s reopening plan, click here.
“We have seen an increase in boating accidents and collisions. The Gloucester Police Department has also received reports of underage drinking and suspected boating under the influence,” Chief Conley said. “We will be increasing our presence along the Annisquam River focusing on safety equipment checks, underage drinking enforcement and boating under the influence detection. We’re asking everyone to please be responsible on the water.”
The Gloucester Police Harbor Patrol and Harbormaster assets will be joined by a significant presence from the US Coast Guard, Massachusetts Environmental Police and Massachusetts State Police this weekend to patrol the area and encourage people not only to follow local and state reopening guidance but to promote safe boating practices and reduce illegal activity.
The Gloucester and Massachusetts Environmental Police will also deploy ATV patrols along Wingaersheek Beach this weekend. Boaters and beachgoers violating Gov. Charlie Baker’s Emergency Order requiring a face mask when social distancing, staying six feet away from others, cannot be maintained in public, indoors or outdoors, could face fines up to $300. Those violating the maximum boat rafting limit of three vessels may also be fined up to $500.
“We know this has been an issue particularly at Wingaersheek Beach and in the Annisquam River area, and it simply isn’t safe,” Harbormaster Ciarametaro said. “There will be a number of agencies heavily patrolling the area this weekend and for the remainder of the summer to ensure people are socially distancing and are also being safe on the water.”
“Boating is an excellent way to recreate, and socially distance, when done smartly and with the proper precautions,” Mayor Romeo Theken said. “We want people to do the right thing and take care to keep themselves and others healthy and safe while enjoying the water. Gloucester has beautiful beaches and stunning water access, so please, whether you’re a resident or a visitor, do your part. Socially distance, boat responsibly, wear a mask, use hand sanitizer and wash your hands and if you feel sick, please, stay home.”
Boaters are reminded of the following guidelines and expectations of the City:
- When accessing the boat landings and ramps, everyone is asked to maintain a physical distance of at least six feet from others, unless they live in the same household. When this is not feasible, face coverings are required for all except those under the age of two and with underlying medical conditions
- All vessels must arrive fully prepared to launch
- Before arriving at the boat landings and ramps individuals should already have anything needed safely stowed aboard the vessel (this includes PFDs, sanitizer, wipes, gloves, masks, sunscreen, refreshments, fishing gear, etc.)
- Vessels must leave the boat landings and ramp areas shortly after launching and all vehicles and trailers must be parked in the appropriate place
- Before and after coming into contact with an item someone else may have touched (such as a fuel pump at a gas station or cart while preparing the vessel for launch), individuals are advised to disinfect by washing their hands or using hand sanitizer as soon as possible
- All signs must be followed and strictly adhered to
- Individuals will be reminded to use common sense and adhere to all safety requirements at all times
Beach goers are reminded of the following expectations amid COVID-19:
- Beach goers are asked to maintain a minimum of 12 feet of distance between toweling and blanket areas.
- A minimum of six feet shall be maintained between lifeguards, lifeguard stands and the public unless there is an emergency.
- 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.
- Everyone, exempting those under the age of two or with an underlying medical condition, is required to wear a cloth face covering when social distancing, maintaining a distance of six feet, cannot be maintained.
Beach visitors are also asked to review all signage before entering the beach to ensure rules and regulations will not be inadvertently violated.
For more information, visit the City’s COVID-19 resources page on its website here.