BOSTON (WHDH) - Beaches across Massachusetts have been given the green light to reopen next week ahead of the summer seasons, but those looking to soak up the sun and frolic in the sand will have to adhere to a long list of rules that have been established to guard against the spread of coronavirus, according to Massachusetts’ four-phased plan to a “New Normal.”
Under Phase 1 of the state’s plan, which has been dubbed “Start,” beaches can reopen starting on Memorial Day with safety and health standards in place.
“All beach managers and visitors should adopt the specific guidelines outlined herein. Property specific guidelines should be posted at entrance points to beach areas,” a memo sent out by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs said.
“I am cautiously optimistic that we will have a summer season. It’s gonna look different than prior summer seasons and it’s gonna be delayed,” Sen Julian Cyr of Truro said.
Speaking to 7NEWS by phone, Members of the Cape Cod Reopening task Force said they expect tourist traffic will continue to pick up this weekend. But, visitors will still have to follow safety protocols such as keeping 6 feet apart when walking to the beach, 12 feet between beach blankets, and no volleyball or big recreational games on the beach.
“I think people are going to have masks available,” he said. “Anytime they’re in a public space. When you’re at the beach and maybe sort to relaxing or maybe not really moving around, then I don’t think you’re going to have to be wearing it but you’re going to need to have access to it.”
As for how these guidelines will be enforced, Cyr said, “the conduct that people are going to take on beaches and almost any other space where the public is interacting is going to rely first and foremost on personal responsibility.”
The following rules and guidelines must be followed by beach managers and beachgoers until further notice, according to the Department of Public Health orders:
Face coverings and masks
All beach visitors over the age of 2 must wear a face covering or mask when they cannot maintain 6 feet of distance between themselves and others unless they have a medical condition preventing them from doing so. Masks are not required to be worn while swimming.
No groups larger than 10 are allowed to gather on the beach.
Coastal and inland beaches – Manager and user guidelines for parking and capacity
To allow for adequate social distancing for ingress, egress, and transit across the beach, beach capacity should be managed to accommodate a minimum of 12 feet distance between toweling/beach blanket groups.
Parking lots, people entering the beach, or other factors should be managed, if necessary, to limit beach capacity to accommodate adequate social distancing based on an assessment by the beach manager.
Loading and unloading times for people and personal items at drop off areas should be limited, where possible. No loitering, tailgating.
Picnic areas should be closed if social distancing cannot be maintained and sanitization cannot be performed between use.
Social distancing on the beach
Beach visitors are required to maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet or more at all times and visitors should maintain at least 12 feet minimum distance between toweling/beach blanket areas.
Games on the beach
Organized ball games should not be allowed activity including, but not limited to, volleyball, Kan Jam, spikeball, football, soccer, Kadima, and bocce.
Beach visitors shall abide by social distancing standards for bathroom lines and follow any established visual guidelines for maintaining a 6 feet distance in all restroom facilities.
A minimum distance of 6 feet shall be maintained between lifeguards and between the public and lifeguard stands unless in the case of an emergency.
Admission/entry transactions are encouraged, where possible should be carried out through a no-contact process such as online reservations, timed-ticketing, permit/sticker issuance or an on-site electronic transaction method that allows for social distancing guidelines to be followed. If not feasible, hand transactions and cash may be allowed.
Any necessary visitors-staff interactions, whether in a vehicle or on foot, should be in accordance with social distancing.
If renting equipment, all equipment must be cleaned and disinfected between use. If items cannot be properly disinfected, the rental should not be allowed. Masks and snorkels should not be rented.
Restrooms, comfort stations, showers
Managers should ensure that users can abide by social distancing standards for bathroom lines and follow any established visual guidelines for maintaining a 6 feet distance in all restroom facilities.
In advance of the initial opening of public restrooms, the managing entity should adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines pertaining to the cleaning and disinfection standards for interior spaces and that social distancing can be maintained.
Daily and weekly cleaning
The managing entity should have the facilities cleaned at least once daily by staff and perform deep cleaning and disinfection services at least once per week and should follow the EEA COVID-19 Outdoor Recreation Facility Restroom Cleaning Best Practices.
Closure of composting toilets
Composting (clivus or similar) toilets should be permanently closed and should be replaced with temporary (seasonal) portable restrooms with daily cleanings.
Hand washing/sanitizer stations
Restroom facilities should contain adequate hand washing and/or sanitizer stations.
Indoor showers/changing facilities
Indoor shower facilities and changing facilities will remain closed in Phase 1.
Water fountains and water refill stations will remain closed in Phase 1.
Food service, concessions, and vending
Serving edible items on the beach
Foodservice shall follow all applicable foodservice and restaurant protocols and guidelines. Foodservice must be limited to take-out in Phase 1.
Trash Disposal and Management
Getting rid of trash
Trash disposal at beaches is available to the discretion of the city or town it is located in and/or the managing organization.
Visitors with trash
Visitors of beaches should expect limited or no trash disposal receptacles. When visiting beaches without trash receptacles, visitors should adhere to a strict “carry in, carry out” policy and take waste with them.
No touch, lidless trash cans
Where trash receptacles are available for normal use, beach managers should where feasible, provide no touch, lidless trashcans.
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