With many out-of-state residents flocking to Rhode Island’s beaches, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management is asking Connecticut residents not to head to the state’s shoreline this weekend.
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management said that despite parking restrictions intended to allow adequate physical distancing on the sand, crowds at Rhode Island state beaches continue to “soar” as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
The department said few visitors are wearing masks to prevent the spread of the virus, calling it a “dangerous combination.”
On Wednesday, Rhode Island Gov. Gina M. Raimondo announced parking lot capacity at Misquamicut State Beach, in Westerly, and Scarborough State Beach, in Narragansett, would drop from 75 percent to 25 percent.
The Rhode Island DEM is working to spread the word on the capacity reduction at the beaches in the hopes it will deter Connecticut and Massachusetts residents from visiting the beaches this week and help residents there adhere to social distancing guidelines and other safety protocols.
The DEM said despite the parking restrictions, Rhode Island state beaches saw a 79 percent increase in visitors in June compared with June 2019 — 340,000 and 190,000 visitors respectively.
Misquamicut beach specifically attracts the most out-of-state visitors, about 77 percent, most of which are from Connecticut, the Rhode Island DEM said, citing a 2016 University of Rhode Island economic impact study.
The request from Rhode Island comes on the heels of a prior weekend where beaches were very crowded, especially during high tide.
Rhode Island officials said though the message isn’t the most friendly, the intention is to reduce crowding and protect public health.
Beyond hoping to reduce any potential spread of coronavirus in Rhode Island, the DEM said the hope is to also prevent any spread getting into Connecticut as well.