How To Safely Go To The Beach

New York City beaches are closed right now, but you are technically permitted to hang out on the sand, provided you do so while complying with social-distancing measures. Still, it’s hard to know exactly what the rules are along the shorelines. How, for example, does one get to the beach safely? Can you go in the water? What about bathrooms? Are the food stands open? To help you navigate the ins and outs of staying cool by the sea, we’ve compiled the following tips based on guidance from NYC’s Department of Parks and Recreation.

How do I get to the beach?

One of New York City’s biggest bonuses is that beaches are largely accessible by public transportation. But it’s still best to stay off the buses and subway for now, to protect the essential workers who need it to get to work. Instead, consider safely biking to a beach close to you. (If you’re looking for tips on getting there on two wheels, Gothamist has a useful guide for beginners.)

Can I go swimming?

The beaches are currently closed for swimming, which means there are no lifeguards on duty. It’s not a good idea to go in the water just yet, although there are rumblings lifeguards will go back to work in the coming weeks.

Can I sit with my friends?

There’s some mixed data on the outdoor transmission of COVID-19. So for now, if you’re going to socialize outdoors, it’s still best to do so from a six-plus foot distance while wearing a mask. In fact, it’s probably best to leave your friends at home right now to prevent crowding, so prepare to either beach alone or do so only with members of your household. If you do meet up with pals, stay spaced out and be mindful of giving other beachgoers room, too.

What’s the deal with the bathrooms?

The public bathrooms at the city beaches are open. If you must use them, wear a mask and bring your own sanitizer to use before and after. Be sure not to crowd the bathrooms and stay six feet from the people on line ahead and behind you.

What about food?

Right now, beach concessions are sparse, if available at all. Though some food stands might open for takeout in the coming weeks, plan on packing your own grub for now, and be sure to bring plenty of water with you, since the drinking fountains have been turned off. Also note that there is no grilling or barbecuing currently allowed.

Can I hang out all day?

NYC’s Parks Department asks that you limit your time on the beach to prevent crowding. 

photo: iStock