Crowd control efforts continue this weekend at RI beaches

South County

(WPRI) — The state of Rhode Island remains focused on preventing COVID-19 from spreading, and therefore, tight restrictions will continue at state beaches this weekend, the Department of Environmental Management said Friday.

The parking lots at most state beaches are operating at 75% capacity, while the Misquamicut and Scarborough lots were reduced to 25% capacity due to crowding at those beaches. Police in some towns are monitoring neighborhoods around parking lots and levying higher fees for parking violations.

DEM spokesperson Mike Healey advised checking the RI State Parks website to find out if there’s parking available before heading to the beach.

Check the parking capacity at RI state beaches »

The heavier penalties for violations include:

  • Charlestown will be strictly enforcing all prohibited parking zones in beach areas and secondary roads, and will deploy additional personnel to enforce traffic laws leading into and out of beach areas.
  • Narragansett has designated all no-parking zones as tow-away zones until further notice. The fine for a parking violation in a tow zone is $75.
  • South Kingstown has doubled the fine for parking in a prohibited beach area to $150, covering the entire length of Succotash Road, which is the only way into or out of East Matunuck State Beach.
  • Westerly has also posted the entire beach area as a tow zone and doubled fines for violations to $150 from $75.

As Westerly Police Chief Shawn Lacey told Eyewitness News this week, the increased fines are designed to be a deterrent. “We are not doing it to make money as a revenue stream by any means whatsoever,” he said.

In the meantime, free masks are being handed out to anyone who isn’t wearing one when they enter beachfront areas, and signs everywhere advise beachgoers to keep their distance.

It all worked to reduce the crowds and violations last weekend, Healey said in a news release Friday.

The measures are part of a coordinated effort between the DEM’s police force, state troopers and town police officers.

The DEM is also continuing to discourage Massachusetts and Connecticut residents from visiting Rhode Island beaches for now.

“We are trying to protect public health and safety in Rhode Island and other states,” DEM Director Janet Coit said.

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