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The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announces that two saltwater beaches will be open to visitors with new restrictions in place beginning on Memorial Day. Getting outdoors and enjoying the beauty of nature are great ways to relieve stress and important to public health. DEM’s Division of Parks and Recreation recognizes the value of spending time in nature and is committed to ensuring beach visitors enjoy safe and memorable experiences at state beaches. 

“DEM is delighted to welcome visitors back to our world-class state beaches,” said DEM Director Janet Coit. “Heading out with family to watch the waves roll in at East Matunuck or take a walk along the water’s edge at Scarborough is a healthy way to stay active and reduce stress while practicing physical distancing. As we’re dealing with the public health emergency, we’re also asking beach visitors to take additional steps to protect themselves, their families, and the people around them so everyone can safely enjoy the outdoors.” 

On Monday, May 25, parking lots at East Matunuck State Beach in South Kingstown and Scarborough North State Beach in Narragansett will be open daily. DEM will have staff present to welcome and handle visitors, but no lifeguards and no swimming. Concessions, along with beach pavilions and their restrooms and showers, will be closed. Portajohns will be available in the parking lots. The parking lots at East Matunuck and Scarborough North will be open, and parking will be free. However, the number of parking spots will be reduced, and parking gates may need to be closed at times depending on beach capacity. All patrons must practice social distancing by keeping at least six feet of distance between themselves and their families and others, including between groups on the beach. Masks should be worn in the public/high use areas.

“Memorial Day is a holiday that is traditionally spent with family, and in order to reduce coronavirus, we still encourage people to stay local and with small groups,” Director Coit said. “While I am happy that two state beaches will be open to the public, it is important for Rhode Islanders to know that the lots may fill quickly. People should expect that they may encounter traffic backups and closed lots. Please be patient and plan for delays. We want everyone to enjoy a safe holiday, and a prepare for a different summer, even at the beach.”

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All state parks are open, with some restrictions in place. Swimming areas at state parks remain closed to swimming until further notice.

State Beaches to Open in Early June

DEM is aiming to open all state beaches in early June. Lifeguards will be on duty and concessions, beach pavilions and restrooms will be open, although portajohns may be needed at some locations.  Parking charges will be in effect and the number of parking spots will be reduced at some locations.

Online beach pass sales will launch next week at www.riparks.com, and individuals will be able to purchase resident, non-resident and senior season beach passes. Season beach passes may also be purchased in person at all state beach locations on weekdays and on weekends at the Scarborough overflow lot. New this year, daily flex passes will be available for purchase online at www.riparks.com by mid-June.

Any Rhode Islander who already holds a 2019 disability beach pass may continue to use it for entry into state beach parking lots for the 2020 season. Those who have misplaced their 2019 pass or who are eligible for a new free pass may contact the RI State Parks Headquarters at 667-6200 for instructions on how to obtain their pass.

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