The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) recently announced that several of the agency’s inland and ocean beaches across the Commonwealth will provide waterfront services for the public in accordance with safety standards issued by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) as part of Phase II of the Baker-Polito Administration’s reopening plan. The project started June 20. Phase II standards include:
- Parking lots, people entering the beach, or other factors should be managed, if necessary, to limit beach capacity to accommodate adequate social distancing based on an assessment by the beach manager;
- Beach visitors are required to maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet or more at all times and visitors should maintain at least 12 feet minimum distance between toweling/beach blanket areas; and,
- No-contact ball games such as catch, kadima, Kan Jam and bocce can be allowed provided that social distancing can be maintained, and group size guidelines followed.
Waterfront services at state beaches include regularly scheduled water quality tests, ropes and buoys in place, and the start of staffing lifeguards at many swimming locations. A complete list of locations with waterfront services can be reviewed on the agency’s website. Furthermore, when visiting state beaches and other state park properties, DCR asks the public to adhere to the following guidance:
- Minimize outdoor recreational time to limit potential exposure to COVID-19;
- Stay within solitary or small groups, and avoid gatherings of ten or more people;
- Wear a face mask or facial covering when social distancing cannot be practiced;
- Administer healthy personal hygiene, such as handwashing for at least 20 seconds;
- Participate in only non-contact recreational activities;
- Leave a park or facility if large gatherings begin to build; and,
- Stay home if ill, over 70, and/or part of a vulnerable population.
Recently, the department opened spray decks, playgrounds, and fitness areas for the public. DCR has also opened Ponkapoag Golf Course in the Town of Canton and Leo J. Martin Memorial Golf Course in the Town of Weston. In an effort to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus, DCR-managed golf courses have several new measures in place aiding users with social distancing. Additionally, to inform visitors of COVID-19 impacts on the state parks system, DCR created a Massachusetts State Parks COVID-19 Updates webpage. Prior to visiting a state parks property, members of the public should review the contents of the webpage.