A socially distanced Labor Day: how Rhode Island beaches prepared for holiday surges

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (WLNE) – Beaches across the state are bracing for crowds this Labor Day, but they are strictly enforcing new guidelines put in place due to the pandemic.

“Labor day is always a pretty crowded day,” Narragansett resident Al Charbonneau said. “I don’t see those crowds today.”

Hundreds showed up at Scarborough State Beach in Narragansett to take in the sun and the views, but all while social distancing six feet apart from the next group.

Parking was limited to 25% capacity to contain overcrowding.

“I’ve seen more social distancing I guess you call it and wearing of masks, but I’ve also seen people not doing it,” Charbonneau said.

The one sight that drew crowds was a whale that washed ashore on Sunday. People surrounded the 15-foot common minke whale in awe.

“It was pretty impressive,” Jamie Theroux said. “It was a pretty good size and first time to see something like that in this area.”

Monday morning, crews removed and buried the whale and the NOAA is investigating how it died.

While Labor Day typically marks the end of the beach season, DEM announced they will keep restrooms, concession stands and parking open until September 21 due to school delays and increased uses of outdoor areas. However, lifeguards will not be on duty.

“I just hope people really respect this place and not take it for granted,” Alexandra Purdy said. “The people that live here all year round really enjoy the time that they have with all the space after all the craziness leaves.”

Despite all the changes, people say the beach is one of their favorite places to be during the pandemic.

“I love that there’s not a lot of people out here,” visitor Darlene Champagne Said. “It’s nice to get out of the house with the pandemic and COVID-19 into the beautiful fresh air.”

For more information on state parks and to check which are closed, visit riparks.com.

Categories: Coronavirus, News