Coronavirus News: Nassau County pushing for changes to capacity limits at beaches

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LONG ISLAND (WABC) -- Nassau County officials are urging the New York State Department of Health to expand capacity at beaches to 100%, saying it is possible to do so while staying consistent with public health and safety protocols.

As Memorial Day nears, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran says local governments and businesses must be given time to plan and prepare for the summer months -- and the current 50% capacity is not enough.

"We are beach people," Curran said. "We are islanders. It's in our name, and it's in our DNA."

It also means revenue, and with COVID cases declining and the number of those vaccinated on the rise, they say the timing is right for Governor Andrew Cuomo to make the choice about beaches sooner rather than later.

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"What we don't want is a situation where we say, 'OK, now you're going to open the beaches,' but our towns and jurisdictions aren't ready to do that," State Senator Todd Kaminsky said.

They argue 50% capacity has come at 100% cost, and asking how businesses could possibly make up for that?

"We don't want to tax our residents back to the stone age," Long Beach City Council President John Bendo said.

Business owners like Stacy and Ralph Anselmo, who run the Beach Burger Cafe, are just trying to prepare.

"Everything has and expiration date on it," Ralph Anselmoo said. "So if you order things, order product, and you can't use it in the right amount of time, you lose that money."

The question remains, though, if beachgoers are prepared for packed conditions.

"Too many people that are unvaccinated are on top of each other, and it's a scary situation," area resident Judy Saraco said. "I'm not ready for that."

Still, some regulars at the beach say normalcy can't come soon enough -- and that it can be done safely.

"Let people who've had both vaccines get a beach pass," beachgoer Donna Surkas said.

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