(WTNH) — Memorial Day weekend also marks the unofficial start to summer, but like almost everything else, this year will be a little different.
The bad news is, Gay City State Park or any other inland state park beach are closed, but you can go to beaches on the shoreline. The difference is all about size and social distancing.
“We are going to be allowing swimming at our shoreline beaches, but we are not going to be allowing swimming this year at our inland parks,” said DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes.
That is because of social distancing and the other new rule: 15 feet. You have to keep 15 feet between your group and your blanket and the next group on the beach.
“That includes 6 feet of space on either side of a blanket, plus 3 feet for people to walk in between,” Dykes said.
Shoreline beaches are big enough to spread out like that, inland park beaches are not. At all State Parks, they are going to be limiting capacity, so when things start to get even a little crowded, they will shut the gates.
“What that means is that parks that reach that capacity are going to be closing for the day,” said Dykes. “They will reopen the next day, but no one else will be able to come into the park once it is closed for the day.”
The commissioner announced a new website where people can check whether the park they are headed to is open or closed, an initiative the state calls “What’s Open Outdoors.” On that site, the list of parks has a handy red, yellow and green coding system with red meaning closed and green signifying varying degrees of open.
So head to the beach early, and check the website before you leave to make sure it’s open.
Or, try a different park. State officials are encouraging people to look for undiscovered gems for a hike. State parks have been open throughout the pandemic, and so far, people seem to be obeying the rules.
“That’s why I’m proud of the fact that we kept our beaches open and proud of the fact that the people of Connecticut maintained their social distance,” said Gov. Ned Lamont (D-CT).
Remember, the new rule is 15 feet between you and your group, and the next group on the beach. That’s why inland beaches are closed. There is just not enough room.
DEEP says the water quality at all shoreline state park beaches will also be tested “for the presence of infectious diseases using standard bacteria indicator species.” Get the latest water quality reports here.
Visitors should not expect bathroom buildings to be open at the State Parks, but most locations will have portable toilets available.
Visitors are also asked to keep face coverings handy for times when they need to be in close proximity of others.
State Campgrounds remain closed until at least June 11.
DEEP continues to ask visitors to follow social distancing guidelines and encourages visitors to visit a state park closest to home.
For more information on the new guidelines, click here.