Gloucester will reopen its beaches Friday, in time for Memorial Day weekend, but many areas will be open only to residents, and beachgoers will be asked to comply with multiple safeguards intended to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, officials said Thursday.
Good Harbor Beach will open only to residents, and space will be limited, while Wingaersheek Beach will allow “a limited number of non-residents, on a first come, first serve basis each day,” officials said in a statement. Both will have lifeguards on duty beginning Friday.
Stage Fort Park — including Half Moon Beach — will be open to all, and the beach will be staffed with lifeguards beginning Saturday. Niles Beach and Plum Cove Beach are both residential and will remain open only to Gloucester residents, officials said. Lifeguards will be posted at those beaches beginning June 20.
“I am proud that our city’s leadership team has developed a plan that incorporates responsible procedures and guidance that will allow people to safely enjoy our beautiful beaches this summer,” Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken said in the statement.
"We ask that everyone adheres to the rules in place to keep people safe and healthy so that our beaches can hopefully remain open, even at a health-conscious reduced capacity, until further notice."
Lifeguards will remain 6 feet from others unless there is an emergency, and both they and parking lot attendants will wear masks and gloves, officials said. Bathrooms will be cleaned hourly and deep-cleaned frequently, they said.
Only residents are eligible for beach parking stickers this year, officials said.
Beachgoers will be required to keep at least 12 feet between each beach blanket or towel area, and groups of more than 10 are not allowed, officials said.
Everyone over age 2 will need to wear face coverings anytime they cannot stay 6 feet from others. Masks are not required while swimming or for those with specified medical conditions. Organized games such as volleyball, soccer, football, and bocce are not allowed.
The policies will not be enforced by police or lifeguards, but if it becomes clear that beachgoers are not following the rules, Gloucester may shut down beaches or limit access, officials said.
“It’s the public’s responsibility to do continue to follow the guidance and restrictions that have been put in place for their wellbeing as well as the health and safety of others,” Public Health Director Karin Carroll said in the statement.
"We urge residents and visitors: maintain social distance. Wear a face covering when social distancing isn't feasible. Please do the right thing, so that we can keep reducing the spread of this virus and move forward with reopening, safely."