SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — While this Memorial Day may not have felt like the “unofficial start to summer,” some Rhode Islanders took advantage of the two state beaches being back open.
The turnout at East Matunuck and Scarborough was slow to start due to the cloudy and drizzly conditions Monday morning, but it started to dry out during the afternoon.
“Although we wish it were a better beach day, the reports we’ve had is that it’s gone pretty well,” R.I. Department of Environmental Management spokesperson Michael Healey said.
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The beaches have been open for walking over the past few weeks so it was really the parking lots that reopened. Parking is free but limited to give people space to spread out in the sand.
Beachgoers were met with signs outlining the new restrictions which include maintaining six feet of social distancing, keeping groups to five people or less, and staying home if you’re sick.
Face coverings should also be worn in more crowded areas, though they can be removed while in the water and where there’s adequate space between groups.
Police officers and park rangers were at the beaches to enforce the new rules, however, no lifeguards were on duty.
The bathrooms, changing rooms and concession stands were off-limits though portable restrooms were available.
Healey said as of Monday afternoon, they had fewer than 300 people at each beach, but they’re ready for roughly 2,000.
“Let’s call this a small step, a baby one, but it was good one,” he added.
Barring any major changes in the public health data, the remaining state beaches are expected reopen when the state moves to Phase 2 on June 1.
State beaches in Massachusetts are open with similar restrictions, except that groups of up to 10 people are allowed.