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Coronavirus US: Cape Cod restricts beach access to visitors

Cape Cod is restricting beach access as visitors flock to the wealthy area for domestic vacations amid the coronavirus pandemic.

While places such as Alabama, Florida and the Virgin Islands are on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s quarantine list, people are free to come and go between Massachusetts and New York which were hard hit earlier in the COVID-19 outbreak.

But last week officials reduced incentive to take a road trip there by blocking cars from parking near a beach in Truro.

‘The Head of the Meadow parking lot will be closed to vehicles starting August 8 until late August,’ the National Parks Service of Cape Cod announced.

‘This will allow for safe physical distancing for visitors at both the seashore and town managed beaches.’

The alert said that bicyclists and pedestrians may enter the beach, which is in the north, requiring a further trek for visitors from off the Cape.

This year there are also no lifeguards on duty at the beach or Herring Cove Beach in Provincetown.

Eleven lifeguards from the nearby Falmouth beaches have tested positive for the virus. It was reportedly due to an after-hours gathering.

Mashpee is only allowing local residents at beaches.

‘Access to Town Beaches shall be restricted to Mashpee residents, members of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, and those with vehicle disability plates or placards and/or current Town Beach permits during the term of this temporary restriction,’ an order announcing the restrictions from July 28 stated.

‘This beach access restriction is intended to advance the interests of the afore-mentioned Advisories and Guidances by preventing large gatherings at and overcrowding of the Town Beaches during the COVID-19 State of Emergency.’

Falmouth beaches reduced parking lot capacity by 50 percent in response to the pandemic.

However they recently announced they are expanding the number of parking spaces available at Mill Road as Surf Drive beach hasn’t been overcrowded as expected.

‘We’re going to continue to monitor the conditions at the different beaches in town,’ Town Manager Julian Suso said.

The Boston Herald reported that Barnstable has been able to manage social distancing at the beach by reminding visitors to wear their masks and stay 12 feet away from other groups.

In April, thousands of locals signed a petition calling for bridges to be closed to prevent visitors from coming to the Provincetown area to stop the spread of COVID-19, Business Insider reported. 

In June, Nauset Beach in Orleans was noticeably busy. In July, Coast Guard Beach in Eastham attracted plenty of out-of-towners. 

It was recently reported that the Hamptons in New York had restricted beaches to deter visitors.

Some residents have gone as far as to hire security to safeguard certain beach entrances from others.

It’s not unusual for street associations to hire teenagers in the summer to make sure private paths are only used by residents, but Vanity Fair reports that the reason this time was to protect residents health. 

Some people have hired bouncers from a local bar.

In an email chain, residents reportedly said they were actually helping unemployed residents during the pandemic.

At the advice of New York officials several beach parking lots have lowered the number of available spots by one third.

The public health guideline was implemented to cap the crowd size at beaches and promote social distancing as New York continued mitigation efforts.

Parking space shortages have frustrated Hampton beachgoers who own costly, limited parking permits because the solution has reportedly done little to deter guests.

Instead, people have just become more creative.

More people are taking their bicycles, walking or are committed to spending a longer time finding parking.

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