15 feet between beach blankets, limited parking: Connecticut releases park, beach guidelines ahead of Memorial Day Weekend

Maya Rajamani
May 21, 2020 - 3:43 pm

HEBRON, CT (1010 WINS) -- Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont on Thursday reported 53 new COVID-19 deaths and 191 new cases as the state released new guidelines for its beaches and parks ahead of Memorial Day weekend. 

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A total of 39,208 Connecticut residents have now tested positive for COVID-19, and 3,582 have died, Lamont said during a briefing held at Gay City State Park in Hebron. 

The number of hospitalizations in the state dropped by 71, he noted. As of Thursday, 816 people were hospitalized with the virus. 

Connecticut’s first phase of reopenings went into effect on Wednesday — the same day Lamont released tentative plans for the state’s second and third phases of reopenings

“I checked with… our team, and people felt pretty good about opening day,” he said during Thursday’s briefing. 

State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Katie Dykes joined Lamont at the briefing. Both encouraged Connecticut residents to visit less-popular parks and beaches this weekend, as part of an effort to maintain social distancing. 

“I used to say, ‘Stay home, stay safe.’ Now I say, go to a little-used park, go to one of the ones that aren’t right on the main strain,” Lamont said. “Go there with your family. Keep your distance if you see a group of people coming up. That’s what spring’s all about and if we do this carefully we’re getting through this together.” 

Dykes also touched upon some guidelines and rules residents should keep in mind if they are planning trips to state parks and beaches this weekend and throughout the summer: 

  • Swimming will be allowed at shoreline beaches, but will not be allowed at inland parks. Beaches at inland parks are “just not big enough… to be able to allow people to spread out and keep social distancing,” Dykes said. 
  • Beachgoers will be asked to keep 15 feet between beach blankets as part of an effort to maintain social distancing.
  • Residents should try to visit parks and beaches that are close to home — and consider some of the “less popular locations,” she said. The state is encouraging people to share “undiscovered gems” on social media using the hashtag #CTTrailsLessTraveled. 
  • Some of the more popular parks in the state will be limiting parking capacity to maintain social distancing. Some locations could reduce capacity to “as low as 25 percent,” Dykes said. Parks that reach capacity will close for the day and reopen the next day. Residents should check the state’s website to see which parks are open before they head out for the day, and make backup plans if the park they travel to does happen to close. 
  • The state has the authority to issue fines to any state resident who disregards a park closure, parks elsewhere and walks in, Dykes noted. 
  • Campsites are still closed as well, but the state hopes to provide an update on the feasibility of camping “soon,” according to Dykes. 

All of the above guidelines are “subject to change,” Dykes noted. DEEP plans to provide updates on its website.

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