Local Beachgoers Are Following COVID-19 Procedures

By: William F. Galvin

Beachgoers enjoy sun, surf and social distancing in Harwich Port.  ALAN POLLOCK PHOTO

HARWICH — The weather could have cooperated a little more over the July Fourth weekend, but the gray clouds did not keep people from going to the beaches.

“The beaches were still pretty crowded,” Recreation Department Director Eric Beebe said on Monday. In fact, the beaches have been very busy, beginning with the warm weather in June. Beach sticker sales are showing a slight increase over last year, treasurer Amy Bullock told selectmen last week.

“On a beautiful day it does crowd up, but we have enough beach space and we can accommodate,” Beebe said. “People have been pent up in their houses and see it as somewhat of a safe way to get out of their house and get some fresh air. We’re seeing a lot of sticker sales.”

The town limited the sale of one-day passes to Red River Beach and Fernandez Bog at Long Pond. Beebe said one-day pass sales at Red River are slow, but sales at Long Pond have been strong.

The Red River Beach parking lot has been impacted by piping plover nesting grounds. Beebe said one-third of the lot toward the east end has been blocked off to protect nesting plovers. That section could remain closed to about July 18, he said.

Despite such disruptions and additional controls relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, Beebe said people have been pretty calm and well behaved at the beaches. The biggest issue in need of regulation is ball playing and other interactive activities on the beach, he said.

Health Department Director Meggan Eldredge said she visited Red River Beach over the weekend and “people were having a great time, using masks when necessary. It was great to see.”

The town has 10 COVID-19 monitors at town beaches. Together with lifeguards they work to assure social distancing, the size and separation of gatherings and when masks are required. They have been trained on how to address these issues, Beebe said.

“We’re the messengers and they understand and comply,” Beebe said. “Some people push back a little bit, but when we explain the regulations are handed down from the state and town, they comply. There will always be people who will have issues. That’s pretty standard for us as far as summer goes. We prepare for the worst and hope for the best. So far so good.”

He also praised the work of the food vendors at the beach for following health department directives and controlling lines.