Officials Explain Logic Behind Beach Lot Bans

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Want to go to a beach in Massachusetts? 

It’s not as simple as it was before the coronavirus pandemic broke out in Massachusetts.

On Thursday, April 2, Governor Charlie Baker and the state Department of Conservation and Recreation announced they would be closing off the parking lots of state-controlled beaches in Massachusetts, including Nantasket Beach in Hull, Revere Beach in Revere, and Wollaston Beach in Quincy, among others.

Additionally, some communities have shut down the parking lots to their respective public beaches. Falmouth, Marshfield, and Duxbury are among the towns that decided to close off the parking lots at their respective beaches without intervention from the state.

Troy Wall, the press secretary for the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, told New Boston Post in an email message that the beaches remain open for a few activities, but not others.

He wrote that “passive recreational activities that involve transitory movement or solitary beach fishing” are allowed. Those would include things like running, jogging, and walking. However, “stationary recreational activities” such as sitting, and sunbathing are not allowed for the time being.

Wall also noted that state parks are open, which offers an alternative exercise opportunity for those who cannot drive to a beach with the new regulation in place.

He said people need to be careful about their timing, however.

“The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) continues to stress that if a park is crowded, please consider leaving the area and either visiting a different location or return at a later date or time (typically state parks are less busy during the week and/or early in the morning),” he wrote.

In Quincy, Dave Murphy, the city’s Commissioner for the Department of Natural Resources, told New Boston Post in an email message that he agrees with the state’s decision.

Murphy said he understands it will result in fewer people at the beach, but said it will be beneficial for walkers.

Wollaston Beach is located on Quincy Shore Drive and when cars park to go to the beach, they use a single row of parking and park perpendicular to the sidewalk. That said, some people choose to walk, jog, or run on the sidewalk rather than the sand itself.

“The parking lot closure at Wollaston Beach allows walkers and runners more space to exercise while adhering to the social distancing guidelines,” he wrote. “Whereas many people were originally confined to a six to eight-foot sidewalk, they now have an additional 20 plus feet to spread out and avoid close contact. While it may have a ripple effect on the nearby roads, I think the policy increases the overall safety of the public.”

Falmouth was one of the first towns to close down its beach parking lots — on April 1. The 10 beaches in town are still open, and Town Manager Julian M. Suso told New Boston Post they have no problem with people walking there.

“It had become clear that these parking lots were being used as gathering places for some individuals who have not been practicing the necessary social distancing to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” Suso wrote.

“Those Falmouth residents who wish to responsibly walk their municipal public beaches and maintain social distancing will be able to continue to do so, but there is no need to park, gather and linger in groups which the parking lots were, in fact, encouraging,” he added.