LIDO BEACH, Long Island (WABC) -- With New York City beaches to remain closed for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend amid the coronavirus pandemic, many neighboring shore towns are fearing an influx of beachgoers they say they aren't ready to handle.
As a result, lawmakers in Nassau County are introducing emergency legislation to restrict access to the sole county-operated beach to residents only.
"Mayor (Bill) de Blasio's decision to keep New York City beaches closed, contrary to the actions of New York State and the surrounding states, could inundate Nassau County and Town of Hempstead beaches with an influx of additional beachgoers, thereby frustrating social distancing safeguards that are in use at Nassau and Town of Hempstead beaches," Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello said in a statement. "The mayor's decision has dramatic and negative health consequences for Nassau County residents."
Legislators in the Republican caucus unveiled the legislation at Nickerson Beach Park in Lido Beach Tuesday.
"Popular beaches in Nassau County lack the capacity to handle the massive influx of beachgoers from New York City in addition to Nassau County residents, while simultaneously working to maintain social distancing guidelines put in place by the governor," Nicolello said. "The New York City mayor's arbitrary decision will also result in congestion on our roads and could result in open disputes among people seeking entry to the beaches."
The law would restrict the use of Nickerson Beach to county residents until de Blasio opens New York City beaches.
"The Town is pleased to open its beaches for the season beginning this Saturday to residents of the Town and the County," Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin said. "We are eager for people to enjoy our beautiful beaches and other park facilities in a safe and responsible manner while conforming with social distancing guidelines and other restrictions which the state may require."
County Executive Laura Curran said she would sign the legislation.
"As County Executive, my number one priority will always be the health and safety of our residents," she said. "In order to ensure Nassau residents can enjoy our only county-operated beach, I will sign legislation designating Nickerson Beach for Nassau residents' use only."
This does not affect Jones Beach, which is a state beach, or Long Beach, which is operated by the City of Long Beach.
State Senator Todd Kaminsky also released a statement regarding the bill.
"It's a shame Long Island has to turn away city beachgoers to protect its residents and ensure safe beaches, but until the mayor gets his act together and makes his own beaches safe, that's the only responsible move," he said. "As soon as New York City does the right thing,
Long Island should welcome back its neighbors as long as safe volumes can be maintained. That would be best for Long Island businesses and in the spirit of our state. I am speaking with federal officials to make sure that beaches that received Army Corp support
can continue to do so in the future in light of this unprecedented situation we currently face."
Elsewhere on Long Island, the Town of East Hampton has suspended issuance of non-resident beach parking permits, while Brookhaven announced it will open four major beaches for Memorial Day weekend to town residents only with parking reduced by 50% to ensure social distancing at these facilities.
Beaches that will be open are:
--Davis Park, Fire Island
--Cedar Beach (main beach), Mt. Sinai
--Corey Beach, Blue Point
--West Meadow, Stony Brook
During Memorial Day weekend, the beaches will be open from 10 am - 6 pm, with all parking lot gates locked at 6:30 pm. Residents may bring umbrellas and blankets but must maintain social distancing on the beach.
Face masks or coverings must be worn in areas outside of the water or general beach area. Lifeguards will be on duty, and residents can go into the water, but swimming is prohibited. Restrooms will be open while the beaches are open and will be cleaned and sanitized by staff every hour. Following Memorial Day weekend, beaches will have no public restroom facilities or lifeguards during weekdays.