Sun, salt, and seawater are synonymous with summer. However, the effects of the novel coronavirus outbreak mean this summer is unlike any other, with some parks, beaches, and many businesses closed indefinitely. With public health concerns and limited travel options, can a summer trip to the beach be salvaged?
Before you pack the car and slather on the sunscreen, decide if a day at the beach is safe for you. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended staying at least six feet apart from people you do not live with when visiting beaches or other recreation facilities. The CDC also recommended washing your hands frequently and covering coughs or sneezes.
Avoid gathering with people you do not live with and wear a cloth face covering when you can. Children under age two, those who have trouble breathing, are unconscious, or who cannot remove a face covering without assistance, should not wear one.
The CDC also advised checking in advance if an individual beach is open, as state and local authorities are deciding whether or not to open them. Visit a body of water close to home because traveling can expose you to surfaces contaminated with the virus that causes COVID-19 and might cause you to come into close contact with others.
If you tested positive for COVID-19 or were exposed in the last 14 days to someone who did, or if you are sick, do not visit public parks or recreation facilities, the CDC stated.
While many public beaches in the United States are open, several nearby amenities, including restaurants and businesses, are operating at limited capacity or with restrictions. Some states are also limiting short-term rentals. Travelers should do research in advance to ensure they know what is open and how to prepare for COVID-19-related regulations. Below is information about beach access in states throughout America.
What's Open in the Northeast
As of May 22, beaches and community pools in Delaware are open with social distancing requirements.
Delaware has a mandatory 14-day quarantine period for out-of-state travelers, according to the state of Delaware website. Face coverings are required on Delaware's boardwalks and are encouraged on the beaches.
Beaches in New Jersey also opened in late May, with restrictions. As of June 25, beaches, boardwalks, lakes, and lakeshores in the Garden State are permitted, with social distancing requirements. People are also encouraged to wear face coverings, according to the New Jersey COVID-19 Information Hub. In New York, beaches are open. New York City, however, has not opened beaches for swimming for the summer.
Locals can visit Maine’s beaches, which are open to state residents and people who complete a 14-day quarantine, according to The Maine Beaches website, which is published by The Maine Beaches Association.
Beaches Open Down South
Public beaches in South Carolina opened in April and beachgoers are required to follow social distancing procedures. However, restrictions may vary by locale. According to the City of Myrtle Beach website, local jurisdictions choose which actions to take for public beach access.
Some areas that previously allowed beach access will close beaches for the Fourth of July weekend.
From July 3 to July 7, Corpus Christi, Port Aransas, and Nuees County in Texas closed all beach access roads and parks, according to the Visit Corpus Christi website.
Galveston, Texas' beaches fully reopened on May 1. As of late June, however, customers and employees at Galveston businesses are required to wear face masks, the Galveston, Texas website stated.
Beach closures in Florida are determined by local authorities, according to information on the Florida Department of Health website. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis directs those on the beach to stay six-feet apart from other groups and to limit gatherings to 10 people or less.
The Visit Florida website offers a county by county list of which beaches are open. The following counties’ beaches are open: Bay; Brevard; Charlotte; Citrus; Duval; Escambia; Flagler; Franklin; Gulf; Hernando; Indian River; Lee; Levy; Manatee; Martin; Nassau; Okaloosa; Pinellas; Santa Rosa; Sarasota; St. Johns; St. Lucie; Taylor; Volusia; and Wakulla counties.
In other counties, including Collier and Pasco counties, the beaches are open with some restrictions. Some counties also have beach closures for the Fourth of July weekend, such as Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, and Monroe counties.
On the West Coast
The Golden State's state parks, including all state beaches, are closed temporarily from Friday, July 3 to Sunday, July 5. The California Parks and Recreation Department, as of June 23, had a list of public parks, beaches and recreation areas that were closed due to COVID-19. Leucadia State Beach in San Diego County was the only beach closure at that time.
Many public beaches are open to the public, however. In several counties, such as Del Norte, Los Angeles, Mendocino, Monterey, Orange, and San Diego counties, to name a few, beaches are largely open with restrictions. Some, such as in Los Angeles County, will close temporarily for the July 4th holiday weekend.
In San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties, the beaches are open.
This list is not comprehensive and restrictions vary widely by state, county, and municipality. Check online before you make plans and follow all safety regulations. Choose a beach close to home, and remember your mask to avoid exposing your family or others to the virus.