SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — Beachgoers this Memorial Day will be packing a mask with their sunblock and towel, a “new norm” as residents mark the unofficial start to summer.
Anyone headed to East Matunuck and Scarborough state beaches will also be met by limited parking, which is why state officials are recommending you get there early.
Signs have also been posted asking you to wear a face mask in crowded areas, but you can take it off when there are six feet of distance between you and other groups. The state added that you do not have to wear a mask when you are in the water.
Department of Environmental Management Spokesperson Michael Healey says they will have two police officers at each beach and park rangers to enforce restrictions.
“Monitoring to make sure people are keeping their distance, so it’s definitely not the same beach experience,” Healey said.
There will be no lifeguards on duty and no access to bathrooms, changing rooms, or concessions, but visitors will not have to pay — portable restrooms will be available to beachgoers.
Stephen Carpenter and his family went to East Matunuck on Sunday and said it’s nice doing normal Memorial Day weekend activities.
“It’s good to get out you know, kinda stuck in the house for so long so it’s good to talk a walk and get some fresh air and smell the ocean,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter said his group and other beach goers were already following the guidelines and felt safe.
“As long as everyone keeps away from each other and keeps their distances and just respects each other it shouldn’t be a problem,” Carpenter said.
“Very safe, we are only staying with our family so we don’t have our mask on right now but everybody seems to be staying away and just enjoying and having a good time,” Sue Stickney added.
Mark and Mary McSally live in Matunuck. They plan to head to the beach Monday and expect a lot of people.
“We try and get down here early before everybody,” Mary said.
“The beach will be open and there will be a different set of facts and circumstances, no lifeguards, no concessions, that may impact people. But also the fact we’ve been locked up for a couple of months may make people want to get out,” Mark said.
Gov. Gina Raimondo announced Friday that Phase 2 of reopening Rhode Island is slated for June 1 and all state parks and beaches will open.
Massachusetts is also opening its beaches today with mask guidelines similar to Rhode Islands — groups of ten or less will be allowed there.