NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (WPRI) ─ With nice weather expected this Fourth of July weekend, many will head to the beach.
Rhode Island beaches have been open for business since mid-May, unlike other states which have closed their beaches ahead of the holiday to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.
“This weekend is going to be a real test, for DEM and all of the folks who visit beaches,” Mike Healey, a spokesperson for the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) said.
Healey said there will be additional reminders posted around state beaches that target the younger population when it comes to mask wearing in high-traffic areas.
“As encouraging as our COVID infection rate has been in RI, we are really concerned for the 20-29 year old age group,” Healey said. “That’s the one that’s really affecting our overall infection rate.”
Though beach parking has been restricted, Gov. Gina Raimondo recently expanded parking to alleviate wait times, saying she is “putting her faith in the people of Rhode Island.”
The state has also unveiled a new online tool for beachgoers that will allow them to check whether parking lots are full before heading to the beach. Right now, this is only available for five of the state’s busiest beaches.
“Green means parking available, orange means we are starting to fill up, red means forget about it, it’s full,” Healey said. “We really hope folks will use that really to prevent frustration.”
The state is also encouraging people to buy beach passes online to reduce lines and person-to-person interactions. Season passes are no longer be sold at beaches and must be purchased online, and new this year, daily flex passes can also be bought online.