PROVIDENCE – The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announces that all Rhode Island state beaches will be open to visitors with new restrictions in place beginning next week. Getting outdoors and enjoying the beauty of nature are great ways to relieve stress and important to public health. DEM's Division of Parks and Recreation recognizes the value of spending time in nature and is committed to ensuring visitors enjoy safe and memorable experiences at state beaches and parks.
"As we welcome people to our world-class state beaches this year, we're asking beach visitors to take additional steps to protect themselves, their families, and the people around them so everyone can safely enjoy the outdoors," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "While I am happy that state beaches will be open to the public, it is important for Rhode Islanders to know that the lots may fill quickly. People should expect that they may encounter traffic backups and closed lots. Please be patient and plan for delays. We want everyone to enjoy a safe experience and to prepare for a different summer, even at the beach."
Today and throughout the coming weekend, the parking lots at East Matunuck State Beach in South Kingstown and Scarborough North State Beach in Narragansett will be open and parking will be free. However, beach pavilions and their restrooms and showers will be closed, and portajohns will be available in the parking lots. The number of parking spots will be reduced, and parking gates may need to be closed at times depending on beach capacity.
Lifeguards, Restrooms and Concessions Available Starting June 1
On Monday, June 1, state beaches will be open daily until Labor Day. Lifeguards will be on duty and concessions, beach pavilions and restrooms will be open, although portajohns may be needed at some locations. Online beach pass sales are now available at www.riparks.com/beachpass for individuals to purchase resident, non-resident and senior season beach passes. Parking charges will be in effect starting June 1 and the number of parking spots will be reduced at most locations. Parking gates may need to be closed at times depending on beach capacity. New this year, beach attendants will be collecting parking fees until 6 PM daily.
Salty's – the beach concessionaire at Roger Wheeler State Beach, East Matunuck State Beach, Salty Brine State Beach, Scarborough State Beach, and the newly rebuilt Misquamicut State Beach – has rolled out a new online ordering website as part of their reopening plans. Beachgoers can make purchases at Salty's at http://www.saltysri.com/ and will receive a text message when their order is ready for pick up. DEM encourages the public to use this service in order to reduce lines and crowding in and around the concession areas.
Visitors Must Continue to Abide by Rules Regarding Social Distancing, Group Size to Safely Enjoy the Outdoors
DEM understands that this is a unique season and the beach experience will be different. Whether in the sand or the waves, beachgoers will be required to follow social distancing guidelines and remain at least six feet from others outside their household. When you follow these guidelines, you are doing your part to keep yourself and others safe and healthy.
While enjoying outdoor spaces, residents must continue to follow the CDC and RI Department of Health guidelines for preventing the spread COVID-19:
• If you're not feeling well, stay home! Signs and symptoms of coronavirus include fever, cough and shortness of breath.
• Practice social distancing by keeping at least six feet of distance between yourself and others, even when outdoors.
• For the safety of all visitors, please have a face covering with you and wear it in public areas and if you are within 6 feet of another person who is outside your household. The only exceptions from these rules are for people with disabilities, anyone whose health would be in jeopardy because of wearing a face covering or any children under 2 years old.
• Avoid close contact with others outside your household, such as shaking hands, hugging, or high-fives.
• Bring and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
• Avoid unnecessary contact with surfaces that are often touched, such as doorknobs and handrails.
Beachgoers Encouraged to Purchase Parking Passes Online
DEM encourages beachgoers to "Beach More, Wait Less" by buying resident, non-resident, and senior season beach passes online at www.riparks.com/beachpass before going to the beach this summer. Season beach parking passes may also be purchased in person at all state beach locations on weekdays and on weekends and holidays at the Scarborough overflow lot. New this year, daily flex passes will be available for purchase online at www.riparks.com/beachpass by mid-June. Online credit card purchases are charged a 6% transaction charge; the total for a $30 RI resident season pass purchased online is $31.80.
In-person opportunities to buy season beach parking passes are available at the following locations:
o The Scarborough State Beach overflow lot located across the street from Scarborough State Beach (870 Ocean Road, Narragansett) from 9 AM to 6 PM on weekends and holidays.
o Entrance booths at all state saltwater beaches starting Monday, June 1. Season beach passes will only be available for purchase at entrance booths on weekdays from 9 AM to 6 PM. Passes will not be available at beach entrance booths on Saturdays, Sundays, or holidays.
Parking Fees for the 2020 Season Will Remain the Same as Last Year
The daily beach parking fee (now known as a flex pass) for residents is $6 on weekdays and $7 on weekends and holidays. The fee for a season pass for residents is $30 and, through Labor Day, will be available for purchase. Non-resident parking is $12 on weekdays and $14 on weekends and holidays. A season pass is $60 for non-residents. A 50% discount on daily parking fees and season passes applies for senior citizens 65 years and older. Fees are based solely on the vehicle registration (i.e., license plate) of each vehicle entering beach facilities. All Rhode Island-registered vehicles will be subject to resident parking rates; non-Rhode Island plates will be subject to non-resident rates. (By law, a "vehicle" is defined as any street-legal equipment, motorized or non-motorized, properly registered for over-the-road travel.)
Season passes will no longer require a physical pass to be placed on vehicle windshields as passes will now be tied to an individual's license plate. Beach attendants will use hand-held devices to scan the front license plate for information and anyone who buys their pass online or in advance of heading to the beach will be able to use newly installed express lanes for quick entry.
Any Rhode Islander who already holds a 2019 disability beach pass may continue to use it for entry into state beach parking lots for the 2020 season. Those who have misplaced their 2019 pass or who are eligible for a new free pass may contact the RI State Parks Headquarters at 667-6200 for instructions on how to obtain their pass.
State beaches will be open daily from Monday, June 1, until Labor Day. Scarborough South will open on Monday, June 20.
Non-surf beaches at Lincoln Woods State Park, Goddard Memorial State Park, the Burlingame Picnic Area, Pulaski State Park, and Fort Adams State Park will be open daily beginning Monday, June 1, until Labor Day. There are no fees to access beaches within state parks. All state parks will be open until sunset beginning June 1. Pavilion and picnic table rentals may be available for groups of 15 or less starting June 1.
DEM is working on a plan to reopen state campgrounds. This year, due to the COVID-19 health emergency, there will be a limited number of campsites available at some locations in order to maintain social distancing requirements, and some locations may not open.
DEM continues to accept applications for qualified lifeguards for state beach facilities. Entry-level and senior lifeguard positions are still available at numerous locations throughout the state. All lifeguard positions require certification and special training in first aid, CPR, and senior lifesaving.
Carry-in/Carry-Out Trash Policy
Everyone who enjoys parks, beaches, and public outdoor spaces has a responsibility to keep them clean. Consistent with this ethic, DEM will continue the carry-in/carry-out trash policy that has been in effect since 1992. Using announcements, social media, signage, and advertising, the Department aims to raise public awareness of the positive values of bringing waste-free lunches and reusable meal and drink containers to the beach and the negative impacts of ugly and unsanitary trash on shorelines.
"The carry-in/carry-out policy is a best practice across the country because it promotes conservation, fosters a sense of stewardship, and leads to better visitor experiences," said Director Coit.
DEM advises everyone to follow guidance about COVID-19 from Governor Raimondo and the Rhode Island Department of Health. More information about COVID-19 and Rhode Island's response can be found here: https://health.ri.gov/diseases/ncov2019/
For outdoor recreation updates, visit http://riparks.com/covid19
For updates on For information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM or on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) for timely updates.