Although town beaches have been open during the COVID-19 pandemic, the town closed beach parking lots on April 1.
Town Manager Julian M. Suso announced Thursday, May 21, that the Old Silver Beach, Chapoquoit Beach, Wood Neck Beach, Bristol Beach, Surf Drive Beach, Falmouth Heights Beach, Menauhant Beach East, Menauhant Beach West and Goodwill Park parking lots will be open at a reduced capacity beginning Saturday, May 23.
“The plan includes a 50 percent reduction in the number of parking spaces available at each beach to facilitate social distancing,” Mr. Suso said.
The beaches will be subject to the social distancing and hygiene requirements set by the state. This includes wearing a mask or facial covering if six feet of social distancing cannot be maintained. In addition, Governor Charles D. Baker Jr.’s recommended beach safety rules require beach goers sit 12 feet apart, rather than the generally recommended distance of six feet. Signs reminding people of these rules will be placed at all Falmouth beaches.
“Parking attendants and lifeguards will not enforce social distancing, but will generally monitor for overcrowding and report concerns to supervisors,” Mr. Suso said. “Further action may need to be taken if the public health is jeopardized by overcrowding or non-compliance with social distancing.”
What this further action is will depend on the situation.
“If it involves isolated situations where folks are not social distancing, we will respectfully attempt to deal with that with staff members and, if necessary, involve police,” he said.
There will be no fee to use the beach parking lots until Saturday, June 20, as lifeguards will not be on duty until then. Beach stickers are available and can be purchased at this time. Residents and taxpayers can purchased beach stickers via mail by filling out an application available online at www.falmouthmass.us/152/Beach-Parking-Stickers. A beach sticker costs $40 for residents and taxpayers.
Stickers will be available for purchase at the Ellen T. Mitchell Bathhouse at Surf Drive Beach beginning Tuesday, May 26.
“To reduce parking demand, the town will no longer offer non-resident/taxpayer stickers for less than a full season,” Mr. Suso said.
Non-residents will have to either purchase a full-season sticker or pay the daily parking fee to use the parking lots at Old Silver Beach, Surf Drive Beach or Menauhant Beach East. A seasonal sticker costs $275 for non-residents. The daily parking fee is $15 at Menauhant Beach East and Surf Drive Beach and $20 at Old Silver Beach.
Grew’s Pond at Goodwill Park will be open to the public without a sticker or daily parking fee. Parking will not be allowed on Gifford Street near the Goodwill Park entrance.
“We have permanent signage posted there, no parking, on Gifford north and south, near Goodwill Park, and police will be monitoring that,” Mr. Suso said.
The parking lots at Megansett Beach and Stony Beach in Woods Hole will remained closed at this time. Mr. Suso said those parking lots will open when the town has sufficient staff or physical barriers in place to control parking. The two parking lots will be re-opened no later than June 20.
The town is also re-opening parking at The Knob at Quissett Harbor Saturday. Mr. Suso noted the Falmouth Police Department will continue to enforce parking rules on Quissett Harbor Road and all areas throughout town.
“We may be adjusting this further in the coming weeks, but we are delighted, following this green light by the governor, to re-open beach parking lots at a reduced level,” Mr. Suso said.