Portsmouth Police, RI DEM discouraging boaters from participating in “Aquapalooza”

The event is supposed to happen on July 25.

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. (WLNE) – Police and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management are “strongly discouraging” boaters from participating in “Aquapalooza”  due to health risks from COVID-19.

Aquapalooza 2018

The event is supposed to happen July 25.

Police say this is a loosely organized event and has been a yearly occurrence in Potters Cove off Prudence Island.

“Gathering of vessels, tying them all together, being in large groups just is an incubator for this disease and we have to avoid it,” said Rhode Island Environmental Police Chief Dean Hoxsie.

On a Zoom call, Chief Hoxsie compared Aquapalooza to overflow events seen at the Ozarks and Lake Mead.

“Events like this around the country have led to spikes in Covid positive testing,” said Hoxsie.

Aquapalooza is largely driven by social media since the event is not sponsored. So far hundreds have RSVP’d on the event Facebook page.

Paul Burrows of Providence tells ABC 6 he’s planning on attending.

“I think right now with everything going on it’s going to be a good event to get everyone out of the house and everything we just went through with Covid and being quarantined, it’s kind of like a release for everyone,” said Burrows Wednesday.

In addition to boating safety, the environmental police, as well as six other law enforcement departments, will be there to enforce Covid regulations.

“If Potters Cove becomes overcrowded, there are too many groups of more than are allowed under the executive orders, then we’ll simply not allow access to the cove,” said Hoxsie.

Burrows says he doesn’t see how being out on the water would be more dangerous than large crowds on the beach.

“I think that’s more of a place to contact and spread the virus than out in the middle of the ocean separated,” said Burrows.

Others on social media are saying they’ll be calling the gathering a protest.

“We’re not looking to inhibit or prohibit anyone’s first amendment rights,” said Hoxsie. “We’ve done a really good job at fighting Covid, at limiting what’s happened in our state. And I think that something like this could set us back.”


Categories: Coronavirus, News, Rhode Island