Given how 2020 has gone thus far, we can expect a cold and rainy Memorial Day weekend. But at least the beaches will be open.
Both Southampton and East Hampton towns and the villages within them have announced plans to make their most cherished natural attractions available to the public — if on scaled back levels — just in time for what is typically the kickoff to the summer season.
Across the region, municipalities will be reducing both the number of beach parking permits issued and the number of cars allowed in parking lots, while enforcing the social distancing mandates handed down by Governor Andrew Cuomo as part of the effort to beat back the coronavirus pandemic.
Southampton Town on Monday announced that, for now, it will open only three beaches — Sagg Main in Sagaponack, Long Beach in Noyac, and Ponquogue Beach in Hampton Bays — for weekends starting Saturday, May 23. They will be staffed with lifeguards and beach attendants Restrooms will be open and concessions will operate for takeout purchases.
Parking permits will be required at all beaches and access roads starting Saturday as well, with permits being sold at the staffed beaches. Applications are available at the town’s website, southamptontownny.gov. Last year’s beach permits will be honored through June 30, but there will be no daily passes sold until further notice.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no picnic tables or benches will be available, and the town has asked that beachgoers maintain a physical distance of 6 feet from one another. Masks and footwear are required on boardwalks, at pavilions, 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.
The town plans to assess the situation weekly with the hope of being able to staff more beaches on weekends in June and seven days a week in July.
East Hampton Town
East Hampton Town has also announced a partial opening of its ocean beaches, with Indian Wells and Atlantic Avenue beaches in Amagansett and Ditch Plains and South Edison beaches in Montauk being opened for weekends only, starting this Saturday. The town is tentatively planning to extend hours at those beaches to seven days a week as early as mid-June and extend openings to include many bay beaches by June 20.
The beaches will be protected by lifeguards, and concession stands and restrooms will be open. The town plans to have beefed up staff on hand, with lifeguards and police officers enforcing 6-foot social distance requirements and the wearing of masks when in close proximity to others.
“We are going to flood these areas with as many town employees as we can to spread the word, ask people to wear masks, ask people to stay socially distant, and work with us to keep the beaches open,” said East Hampton Town Police Chief Michael Sarlo. “It’s been made clear by the governor’s office that if we cannot manage the beaches properly, they will be closed.”
Parking permits will be required, but the town will not sell any more non-resident permits this year, and it plans to reduce the number of parking spaces available at beaches to provide larger drop-off and pick-up areas as well as one-way access and egress.
Coopers Beach in Southampton opens on Friday, May 22. Lifeguards will be on duty, and concessions and restrooms will be open. The village is requesting that beachgoers practice social distancing and wear masks when they are unable to maintain a 6-foot space between themselves and others.
Mayor Jesse Warren said the village will limit by half the number of cars allowed in the parking lot in keeping with the governor’s directive.
Beach parking permits will be required. Residents are allowed three passes per property, but will not be allowed to purchase additional permits. Residents of the Southampton school and fire districts will be allowed to purchase one discounted nonresident permit and those renting houses for a 30-day period during the summer will be allowed to purchase one permit. The village has discontinued the sale of nonresident seasonal passes for all others and will not sell daily passes until further notice.
East Hampton Village
East Hampton Village will open its beaches this weekend as well, with lifeguards on duty and concessions and restrooms open.
Like others, the village has suspended the sale of daily passes until further notice, said Mayor Richard Lawler. He added the last year’s resident permits will remain valid for two weeks as a courtesy to those who were unable to obtain a permit in time. Seasonal nonresident permits sold out earlier in the year.
The mayor said the village would enforce social distancing and mask-wearing guidelines as well as limit parking.
Village officials on Friday discussed tentative plans to reopen Havens Beach, following guidelines handed down by Suffolk County.
Parking is limited to village residents, and daily passes are not issued.
Trustee Aiden Corish recommended that the village erect a sign at the entrance reminding beachgoers in English and Spanish of the need to maintain social distancing and wear masks when unable to maintain a 6-foot distance from others. Picnic tables will be removed.
The village has also proposed keeping the public restroom open with a requirement that only one person is allowed to enter at a time with reminders to wash one’s hands posted, and markers placed outside to help those waiting maintain the required distance.
The board agreed it would monitor the situation during the summer and reduce the number of parking spaces available if necessary.
Mayor Peter Sartorius said Quogue Village Beach will be open on Memorial Day weekend with 50-percent capacity allowed in the parking lot, lifeguards on duty, and restrooms open. Masks and social distancing will be required, where appropriate. Picnic tables will be removed.
The beach will be open on weekends only until June 21, when it is expected to be opened seven days a week through Labor Day. Although 2020 parking permits will not be required until June 20, effective this weekend, access will be limited to Quogue residents or renters, who will be required to display either a 2019 pass or provide other evidence of residency.
Rogers and Lashley beaches in Westhampton Beach will be open to visitors, but there will be neither lifeguards on duty, nor restrooms or concessions available, according to tax clerk Jennifer Gaudiello.
The village website states that the beaches will only be open to village taxpayers and year-round renters. Last year’s resident passes will be honored this year, but the village does not anticipate selling nonresident or seasonal rental permits this year.
As in other communities, social distancing restrictions will be enforced, and parking limited to 50-percent capacity.
Cupsogue Beach County Park in Westhampton will be open on Memorial Day weekend. Suffolk County has announced it will have increased numbers of lifeguards and bathroom attendants on duty to help enforce social distancing requirements. Beachgoers will be required to wear face masks on boardwalks, stairs, restrooms and other public areas. Access to the county park is through a Suffolk County Green Card.