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Several Beaches Closed to Late Arrivals Amid Covid Concerns

Sun, 07/26/2020 - 10:43
Ditch Plain Beach in Montauk on Saturday afternoon looked like pre-pandemic times from the air.
Doug Kuntz

Several East Hampton beaches were temporarily closed to late-arriving beachgoers on Saturday as officials tried to enforce Covid-19 restrictions on the busiest day since the Fourth of July weekend. 

Police have been spread  thin on weekends, handling high call volumes and trying to monitor businesses and beaches.

Roads to Two Mile Hollow in East Hampton Village and Atlantic Avenue and Indian Wells Beaches in Amagansett were blocked by police in the afternoon, when temperatures readed the mid-80s.

"Parking reached capacity at both Indian Wells and Atlantic Avenue yesterday. We have continued the reduced available parking spaces to aid in maintaining the capacity on the sand to meet the state guidelines and help promote social distancing," East Hampton Town Police Chief Michael Sarlo said.

Drop-offs at the road ends were allowed, and both lots were only closed for about an hour, as vehicles left others were let in. Ditch Plain main parking lot was full and only open to drop-off for a while on Saturday, he said. 

"We are fortunate that beachgoers are able to spread out in both directions from the parking lots and the lifeguards and Marine Patrol continue to make the rounds ensuring distancing is being practiced. The compliance with mask-wearing in the parking lot and while entering and exiting the beaches is a challenge, as it is hot and people just want to get onto the sand, but, again, our lifeguards serving as ambassadors at the beaches has been working very well," Chief Sarlo said.

The number of Covid-19 cases among East Hampton Town residents remained low. New York State reported a single new confirmed case of the novel coronavirus within the town, from someone who lives in Montauk.

An unknown is the rate of positive Covid-19 cases among visitors and vacation-home owners; testing information is sorted by permanent address. Someone who may have contracted the virus in the Hamptons, but who lived elsewhere would not be counted in local results.

As the pandemic has swept around the world, vacation destinations have been a problem for health authorities. 

In Spain, beaches, bars, and nightclubs have been put under new lockdown restrictions after turning into coronavirus hot spots, the Associated Press reported on Sunday. Some European Union countries and the United Kingdom have advised vacationers to avoid the beaches around Barcelona in particular. 

In East Hampton people with four-wheel-drive vehicles were able to reach normally secluded spots to beat the heat, with hundreds of pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles spread out for miles on Napeague in East Hampton Town. Others parked far away and walked, carrying beach chairs and coolers to reach Main Beach in East Hampton Village.

The East End of Long Island has largely avoided the high rate of coronavirus cases elsewhere in Suffolk County. As of Saturday, East Hampton Town's total positive case count was 235. Springs had 75 Covid-19 cases, the most of any sample in the town.

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