New York State beaches, and the county ocean beaches at Cupsogue in Westhampton Beach and Smith Point in Shirley will be open for the holiday weekend, with new occupancy restrictions, and local towns have opened a limited number of ocean beaches in an attempt to make sure beachgoers recreate safely.

“For kids who don’t have playgrounds, pools, movies and amusement parks, all these things that aren’t operating and don’t exist right now, we have to have something for them to do,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone on May 15. “It’s far better to develop a safety plan allows us to proactively plan for and open in safe manner, protect public health and enable families to enjoy the beach.”

New York State has cut its beach occupancy limit by 50 percent, reduced parking, and mandated that picnic areas, pavilions and arcades at beaches remain closed, with no concessions operating. Contact sports like volleyball and football will also not be permitted.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said Friday that beachgoers must wear face coverings when in public areas at beaches, but do not need to wear them when they find a spot to sit with their family group, or while in the water.

“Local governments can decide to open or stay closed,” he said. “If they chose to open, they must adopt the state’s requirements at a minimum. If they want to impose additional requirements, they’re allowed to.”

Mr. Bellone said Suffolk County lifeguards had worked with the county health department to determine the reduced occupancy at the county beaches based on the square footage of beaches.

He added that Suffolk’s beach employees will have their temperatures checked before each shift, and bathroom attendants will be on hand to regularly clean bathrooms. Hand sanitizer will also be provided for people to use before and after they enter bathrooms at the beaches.

Only one lifeguard will be on each lifeguard stand at county beaches, but if more than one lifeguard is needed for a rescue, they “will do what is needed to save a person’s life,” he said.

Mr. Bellone said the county’s has not yet opened its bay beach at Meschutt in Hampton Bays, but will likely do so later in the season.

“Beaches are part of the fabric of life on Long Island,” he said.

The county is also opening its campgrounds and will begin taking RV camping reservations from July 15 forward on its website beginning at 7 p.m. tonight. Tent camping has not yet been reopened. Reservations for between June 1 and July 15 were already in the county reservation system.

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.

Below are the current beach opening guidelines (As of May 22) from four of the five East End towns. Shelter Island has not publicized this information.

East Hampton Town:

Indian Wells and Atlantic Avenue beaches in Amagansett, South Edison and Ditch Plains beaches in Montauk to be open and lifeguarded from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends only starting Saturday.

Beach capacity will be reduced and sale of nonresident parking permits and beach day passes has been suspended. East Hampton is requiring beachgoers to adhere to state Covid-19 safety guidelines regarding social distancing and wearing of face masks.

No groups will be allowed, except for family or household groups. Blankets and chairs on the beach should be at least 10 feet apart. Social distancing of at least six feet between individuals must be practiced on the beach.
Beach sports will not be allowed. There will be separate beach entrance and exit areas.

Lifeguards and town recreation staff that would otherwise be posted elsewhere will be assigned to the open beaches. Lifeguards may be assigned to help inform beachgoers about social distancing and to enforce beach rules when they are not on the lifeguard stand.

Parks and recreation staff will be stationed at the beach entrance booths at Indian Wells and Ditch Plains beaches, as well as at the beach heads and comfort stations to request that visitors are wear masks, and maintain social distancing.

East Hampton Town Police Department traffic control officers will be stationed at Indian Wells, Atlantic Avenue, South Edison and Ditch Plains parking lots. Marine Patrols in quads or 4×4 vehicles will be assigned to Indian Wells & Atlantic Avenue, the Napeague Lane area, and the
Montauk beaches.

Designated additional Police Officers will be assigned to patrol Indian Wells
and Atlantic Avenue, Ditch Plains and South Edison.
Public bathrooms open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at beaches and at the Amagansett municipal parking lot and the Montauk police precinct building will be disinfected regularly and locked at night.

The town’s beach reopening plan has been submitted to and approved by the county health department, and reviewed by Dr. Bruce Polsky, an internal medicine and infectious disease specialist who the town board appointed on Tuesday as a volunteer consultant. The East Hampton
Town Trustees have unanimously endorsed the plan.

The beach operation plans will be reviewed on a regular basis after the Memorial Day weekend and modified as needed. If COVID-19 safety regulations are not followed, New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has said, beaches will be shut down.

Bay beaches and the Kirk Park and downtown Montauk ocean beaches
are slated to open in late June.

In addition to enforcing beach regulations, police officers will continue visiting businesses to advise them on enacting social distancing policies, East Hampton Town Police Chief Michael Sarlo reported Tuesday. Businesses have the right to refuse service to people not wearing masks or face coverings, Chief Sarlo noted. People must have a mask with them in public and be prepared to put it on when not able to maintain a six-foot social distance, he said.

“The opening of beaches on a trial basis will be closely monitored. We ask for everyone’s patience and cooperation so that we may all enjoy continued progress against COVID-19, and make the best of a summer that will be like no other,” said Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc.

New Suffolk Beach

Southold Town:

Southold Town will be limiting beach access to residents only this summer, will not be opening up beaches to swimming before June 27, and will only be opening a limited number of pickleball and tennis courts at town parks, the town announced on Thursday, May 21.

Effective May 21, beach, road end and boat ramp use continues to be restricted to “Residents Only,” according to the town. All vehicles must have a “Resident Parking” permit displayed.

“This requirement will be strictly enforced,” according to the town. “Those who do not adhere to the rules are subject to removal from any park or beach.”

“For residents who have not yet been able purchase a permit, they are available from the Drive-Through building at the Southold Town Annex (the former Capital One Building) on Route 25 in Southold. Hours are Saturday, Sunday and Memorial Day Monday from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Parking stickers that were to expire on December 31, 2019 shall be valid until June 14, 2020.

There will be no lifeguards on duty and bathrooms will not be opened before June 27. 

The town says it will enforce social distancing guidelines at all times.

Masks are required at all times on the beach unless stationary on a blanket, chair, towel, etc. or during swimming. Gatherings on the beach shall be members of the same household only and gatherings in the water are prohibited.

Southold Town parks and preserves will continue to be open for passive use.

A limited number of tennis courts and pickle ball courts will be open for public use, subject to the restrictions, requirements and prohibitions posted on site.

All team, league or club organized games/competitions are prohibited per New York State mandate.

All other courts/ball fields, and playground equipment will remain closed, also per state mandate. No bathroom facilities, benches, tables or water fountains will be available for use at any of the parks.

Masks or social distancing of no less than 6 feet must be adhered to at all times, and all residents must carry a mask at all times on all town properties. 

At the west side of the Shinnecock Inlet on Dune Road, one of the docking stations for a new countywide bike sharing program.

Southampton Town

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.

At South Jamesport Beach

Riverhead Town

The following Town park facilities remain open subject to safe distancing rules through May 31, 2020:
• Beach Parking Lots and designated beach permit only parking areas. Vehicles with a 2019 or 2020 beach parking permit will be allowed to park at beach parking lots and at designated beach permit only locations;
• Beaches;
• Recreation Trail at EPCAL;
• Open Space/park areas, including those at Ammann Park, Bayberry Park, Grangebel Park, John Lombardi Park, Miamogue Point Park, the Sound Avenue Nature Preserve and Stotzky Park.

Riverhead requires all vehicles visiting town beaches to have their 2020 beach sticker by Saturday, June 27.

Until then, they will honor 2019 beach parking stickers. Beach stickers may be purchased via the Viply App, by sending your completed application to 55 Columbus Avenue, Riverhead, NY 11901 or by dropping your
completed application it in the box outside the Parks office at Stotsky Park. You may also purchase your beach sticker in person at the Parks office at Stotsky Park or visit the Town Recreation Department Website.

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she 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

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