Covid on Long Island: Town Supes Release Summer Beach Policies

Written by Ls Cohen  |  20. May 2020

A task force consisting of all Long island Town Supervisors have come together to release a bi-county plan for all town beaches. The organization, called the Nassau/Suffolk Towns’ Summer Operations Task Force first came together in the beginning of May to hammer out their plans and on Monday they released an outline that has been submitted to New York State.


The policy document sets guidelines agreed upon by all Nassau and Suffolk Townships that will ensure residents have a safe summer while enjoying the shoreline.


Under New York State guidelines, beaches must operate at 50% capacity. The town supervisors said that their guidelines are subject to New York State approval and where in conflict with any current or future state guidance, the stricter state guidance will take precedence.


Suffolk and Nassau Counties have also issued statements about summer beach access limiting it to residents only.


Issues addressed in the plan include facemasks, capacity limitations, closing of playgrounds, camps, and summer programs, as well as monitoring of infection rates with the possibility of a coordinated closure of facilities if deemed necessary.


Below are the policies that towns on Long Island hope to put in place:


I. Public Health Messaging - consistent social distancing guidelines across all communities will be vital to ensuring broad compliance from the public.


A. Public Outreach - every Town will establish a proactive public outreach plan, beyond their normal summer guidance, to ensure residents are aware of the many changes and restrictions in place this summer. This may include social media, paid advertisements, mailings, and radio broadcasts. In addition, each Town will, as feasible, ensure that Town Parks staff are prepared to respond to questions and concerns regarding new policies.


B. Face Coverings and Masks, Social Distancing


1. All Towns will remain in sync regarding face covering and social distancing policies throughout the summer season (see below details on policies). Simple, straightforward policies, that are consistent across Towns, will ensure that all residents are fully aware of expectations regarding behavior at all facilities at all times. The Towns task force will communicate at least bi-weekly throughout the summer season to accommodate any changes needed to the policies.


C. Enforcement


1. All Towns will remain in sync regarding enforcement mechanisms throughout the summer season. An established escalation process will be in place for visitors that do not comply with public health policies. The Towns task force will establish clear lines of communication between their respective parks enforcement personnel, and either their respective county police department, or their local law enforcement agency.


D. Signage


1. The Towns Task Force will communicate regularly with the NYS Parks Department and the Suffolk And Nassau County Parks Departments to ensure consistent messaging on all signage. All signage will follow the agreed upon guidelines of including large text, visual cues, and simple



II. Opening (and possible closing) Timelines - Syncing the timing of beach, park and facilities openings as much as feasible, will ensure that variation between towns does not lead to a surge in crowding at one location, due to closure at another.


A. As staffing and preparation efforts vary widely across Long Island, not all Towns will necessarily have beaches open by Memorial Day. However, all Towns are on track to open most if not all of their beach facilities by the week preceding the July 4th holiday.


B. All marinas will be open by June 1st.


C. As guidance is issued by NYS, and decisions are made regarding the safety of pools, spray parks, playgrounds, and summer programs, the Towns task force will, as feasible, coordinate possible opening dates.


D. If there is a marked increase in infection rates, or broad issues with public guidelines at beaches and parks at some point in the summer season, the Towns task force will coordinate the possible closure of facilities and activities to ensure consistent public safety across all municipalities.


III. Beach, Park, and Playground Policies - While there is very wide-variation among the size and types of parks resources across the Long Island Towns, coordination regarding best practices for potential each usage, park activity, and playground policies will ensure that the safest approach is applied uniformly for all residents of Long Island.


A. Beaches


1. Face Coverings and Masks -


a) Mask Must be Worn


(1) When you arrive at the facility


(2) When moving through parking lots and public areas


(3) When walking down to the beachfront or up from the beachfront


(4) When in the concession or restroom area


(5) Any other public area other than the below


b) Visitors May Remove Their Masks


(1) When in the water


(2) When stationary on a towel, blanket, chair etc., with their household group


c) Residents must bring a face covering or mask with them. Some facilities may have a small supply on site if needed, but entry is not guaranteed for any residents that arrive without their face covering or mask


2. Capacity Limitations


a) All beaches will have a capacity plan developed that reflect that facility’s unique parking lot capacity, beachfront capacity, and restroom and concession set-up


b) In order to adhere to stated guidelines of 50% beach capacity, Townships may restrict or expand their parking lot access, depending on the safe capacity of the beachfront


c) Residents should check with their local officials and parks department for up-to-date information regarding capacity and restrictions on each facility.


d) All beaches will allow blankets, towels, chairs and coolers, as per the normal rules of each municipality


3. COVID-19 Summer Safety Directors & Monitors


a) At each facility where warranted, one staff person shall be designated to monitor adherence to social distancing and public health policies on a real-time basis. This person, in consultation with management, shall be empowered to adjust capacity and enforcement procedures as needed, to reflect up-to-the moment conditions at that facility.


b) As feasible given established staffing, all Towns will develop a stand-alone program to hire, or designate from current staff, additional personnel who will be trained specifically to communicate and enforce new guidelines and public health policies. This staff will be educated in COVID-19 symptoms, effective communication strategies, and de-escalation methods.


4. Swimming Restrictions


a) As applicable depending on the beach and water conditions, residents will be asked to restrict swimming to 20-30 feet from the shoreline, or at most 10 feet past the “wave break.” This will lower the rate of “saves” required by lifeguards and protect their health. Lifeguards on site will be empowered to make daily decisions regarding enforcement of this recommendation.


B. Pools & Spray Parks


1. Due to health and sanitation concerns, no Town will open any pool facility or spray parks until guidance is issued from New York State.


C. Parks


1. All parks (fields) will be open for passive use only. No group sport activities will be allowed until further notice.


2. There will be no congregating of any kind, unless visitors are seated or stationary with strict social distancing adherence.


3. Masks should be worn at all times when moving through parks, unless there are no other visitors within sight.


D. Playgrounds


1. All playgrounds will remain closed until further notice


E. Marinas


1. All marinas will be open by June 1st


2. All marinas will require social distancing at all times while on-site


3. There will be no congregating on docks, in parking lots, or boat ramps


4. There will be no “rafting,” or tying together of boats between different groups for socializing purposes.


F. Summer Programs


1. Due to health and sanitation concerns, no Town will operate summer programs or day camps until guidance is issued from New York State.


IV. Town Authority


A. While all Towns are committed to adhering to these joint policies wherever feasible, each municipality reserves the right to modify without notice any of the above in order to ensure the safety of their residents and staff.

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