Small crowds hit two open RI state beaches for Memorial Day

With two of the seven state beaches open in Rhode Island for Memorial Day it gave people a chance to enjoy the holiday by getting some much needed fresh air, but the crowds this year were scarce.

It could be because of the dreary Memorial Day weather but it also could have been due to the social distancing guidelines implemented at state beaches.

East Matunuck and Scarborough State Beaches had to limit parking to prevent large crowds.

East Matunuck usually can hold around 800 cars but the state would only allow 635 in the parking lot, while at Scarborough Beach that number was only 750.

DEM spokesperson Mike Healey said it was a good decision, as around a quarter of beach visitors are walk-ups.

“We don’t want groups of people blanket to blanket. We need to ensure they are six feet apart,” he said. “The surest way to try and limit a crowd is definitely to restrict the number of parking spots.”

Visitors were asked to bring a mask. They did not have to wear it at all times but if they came within six feet of another group they have to be prepared.

Smaller crowds hit the beach this year, and Healey said the state will have to wait a bit longer to see how the adjustments are going.

“The bigger test is going to be if Wednesday’s forecast holds and Wednesday is a nice beach day. That’s going to be a test,” he said.

People visiting the beach were aware that the dreary weather most likely kept people away, but they said it still felt different.

“It’s just very different. It’s very scarce and we’re just hoping that things improve because it’s like a ghost town,” said Mike Goyette, who was walking on East Matunuck Beach. “Very very scary to be honest with you.”

“Came here all the time last summer and I always had fun with my friends and I just want that back,” said South Kingstown resident Hannah Leclerc. “Not a lot of people are here like they used to be and its just quiet.”

The two open state beaches do not have lifeguards on duty.

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Regional News, Rhode Island