Do I need to wear a mask on the beach? RI issues new guidelines

South County

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Visiting the beach this summer in Rhode Island will come with social distancing and some mask-wearing, according to new state guidelines released this week.

According to guidance posted on the Reopening RI website, all employees and visitors to beaches must wear face coverings in areas where people would congregate like boardwalks, restrooms, changing rooms and concession stands, but should not wear their masks into the water.

Mike Healey, a spokesperson for the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, said visitors will not have to wear their masks once they’ve settled into their spot on the sand, as long as they are at least six feet away from the people next to them.

Beach managers will be responsible for limiting crowd sizes either through capping the number of passes being sold, reducing parking capacity, or closing off certain areas.

Visitors will have to maintain appropriate social distancing, and groups will be required to stay at least six feet apart. The size of groups will also be restricted based on state guidelines, which currently limit social gatherings to five people or fewer.

Distancing rules will also apply to lifeguards, who will have to wear masks and gloves whenever dealing with the public for things like administering first aid. Lifeguards will not have to wear a mask into the water, but a second lifeguard outfitted with a mask and gloves will be required to take over as soon as the rescuing guard reaches the shore.

The guidance also suggests beach operators offer online or automated sales of passes to eliminate the need for paper receipts and additional contact.

Any out-of-state visitors will have to be informed of current state mandates relating to quarantine through appropriate signage. The governor’s current order on quarantine for domestic, out-of-state travelers coming into Rhode Island is set to expire on Friday.

The governor announced Monday that two state beaches, East Matunuck and Scarborough, will open on Memorial Day with limited parking capacity. Admission will be free, but there will be no lifeguards on duty, no concessions and bathrooms, and showers will be closed.

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