Coronavirus Updates (May 20): Reopening Details Begin to Roll In

Nassau & Suffolk Towns Issue Guidance on Summer Recreation

The Suffolk County Supervisors Association, in a joint planning effort with the three Nassau County town supervisors, has released island-wide guidelines to coordinate the opening of town beaches, parks and playgrounds this summer.

The plan includes synching the timing of the opening of beaches throughout the region to “ensure that variation between towns does not lead to a surge in crowding at one location, due to closure at another,” with all towns on track to open most or all of their beaches by the week prior to July 4.

All town-owned marinas in Nassau and Suffolk will be open by June 1, and rafting up of boats for socializing will not be permitted.

Pools and spray parks and town-operated day camps and summer programs will not be open until New York State deems them safe. No group sports will be permitted at public parks and playgrounds will be closed until further notice.

The towns have also agreed to restrict swimming to 20-30 feet from the shoreline, or 10 feet beyond the “wave break” on the ocean, to lower the rate of “saves” to protect the health of lifeguards.

“Lifeguards on site will be empowered to make daily decisions regarding enforcement of this recommendation,” according to the document.

Each open facility will have one staff member “designated to monitor adherence to social distancing and public health policies on a real-time basis.”

As per guidance issued last week by New York State, town beaches on Long Island will operate at no more than 50 percent capacity, all beachgoers must have face coverings that they wear in public areas of the beach. They will not be required to wear face coverings in the water or when at their spot on the beach with their families.

The full document is online here.

East Hampton Asks New York To Clamp Down on Hotels

East Hampton Town is asking New York State to delay the opening of resort hotels and motels until later in the state’s reopening process, over the community’s “fears that flow of summer hotel visitors will spread coronavirus,” according to a statement the town issued Monday. Hotels and other places  of accommodation are currently deemed one of the essential businesses that have been allowed to operate throughout the pandemic.

A May 14 letter to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo described the concern that “a summertime influx of people into our area has the potential to cause renewed outbreaks of Covid-19 and reverse the progress our area has made in reducing spread of the disease through weeks of staying at home, quarantining, and following precautions in public.”

The letter notes that the governor’s “New York Forward” guide to reopening the state’s economy asserts that “when phasing in re-openings, regions must not open attractions or businesses that would draw a large number of visitors from outside the local area.”

Initially, Mr. Cuomo referred to reopening hotels and motels as part of the third phase of a cautious regional reopening of business, which will only proceed if there is no evidence of a Covid-19 resurgence.

Businesses that were shut down by the state under Governor Cuomo’s NY on Pause order may not reopen until after Long Island first meets required state health and safety criteria.

But “hotels and other places of accommodation,” without further detail or limit, remained on the governor’s list of “essential businesses” that were allowed to continue operating throughout the shutdown.

The letter, copied to New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, asks that the state prohibit resorts and tourist accommodations to reopen until our area reaches phase three of the regional reopening.

The Long Island region has not yet met all of the metrics needed to start the process, but is expected to do so shortly.

“We are still not at a point where non-essential travel should take place,” the letter says, citing a strain on local resources and challenges posed by the popularity of the town, and particularly Montauk, as a tourist destination.

“During this pandemic, the challenge is even more acute and the stakes even higher,” the board members wrote to the governor. “As town leaders, we are hearing pleas from our residents to take action to protect them. We are planning, as best we can, for the implementation of additional COVID-19 safety and control measures. But we fear that adding hotel and motel visitors to the mix will simply overwhelm our town, creating an untenable, and avoidable, surge in the ongoing public health crisis.”

The Ponquogue Beach pavilion.
The Ponquogue Beach pavilion.

Southampton To Open Three Beaches May 23

Southampton Town announced Monday it will implement a phased reopening and staffing of beaches this summer. 

Beginning this Saturday, May 23,  three beaches — Ponquogue in Hampton Bays, Sagg Main in Sagaponack and Long Beach in Sag Harbor — will operate on weekends. They will be staffed with lifeguards and beach attendants. Restrooms will be open and concessions will operate as takeout only.  

Permits are required at all Southampton Town beaches and access roads beginning May 23. Residential and non-residential permits will be sold at those three beach locations on weekends beginning May 23. Beach permits applications are also available online at the town website. Existing 2019 beach permits are valid through June 30.  No daily permits will be sold until further notice.

No picnic tables or benches will be available for use by the public, and the town is asking beachgoers to respect CDC social distance guidelines of 6 feet. All patrons are expected to wear facial coverings and footwear on boardwalks and pavilions and in restrooms, and when within 6 feet of others. 

There should be no congregating in groups on the beach or pavilion areas, and no contact sports or sharing of sport equipment.

Beach operations will be assessed weekly with the hope to staff more beaches on weekends later  in June and to operate seven days a week in July. 

This phased in plan is subject to change as conditions warrant.

Southold’s Drive-Through Permits and Taxes

The drive-through window located at Southold’s Town Hall Annex, 54375 Route 25, Southold is open for those who wish to pay their property taxes and buy beach and boat trailer parking permits.

Property taxes are currently due June 1, though Suffolk County is attempting to work out details of an arrangement with the U.S. Department of the Treasury to allow property owners an extension on their taxes.

You must have a tax stub to submit payment at Southold’s drive through window. Copies of your tax bill are available online on the town website, www.southoldtownny.gov under “Tax Receiver” department. Select “Pay/View Your Taxes”, then enter your last name only in the search box to retrieve your bill. 

The drive-through’s hours of operation are Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., excluding holidays. 

People are still welcome to pay their taxes either online or by mail. For any questions, contact the Tax Receiver’s Office at 631.765.1803 or the Southold Town Supervisor’s Office at 631.765.1889 during regular business hours, weekdays from 8:00am until 4:00pm.

The drive-through is also open on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. until 3:00pm for the sale of Resident Only Vehicle Parking and Resident Trailer Permits. Non-resident or other Town permits will not be issued.

For information on cost, method of payment and accepted forms of proof of residency, visit the Southold Town website or call the town clerk’s office at 631.765.1800 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.   

According to Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell, “the town acquired an exceptional building when it purchased the former Southold Savings Bank in Southold Village. The drive-through facility is an added bonus that gives us the opportunity to offer the convenience that our residents deserve.”        

For more information, contact the Supervisor’s Office at 631.765.1889.

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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