The Long Beach City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to open the boardwalk and the beach for the summer, but with a number of restrictions, ending anxious weeks of waiting by residents and businesses.
The 2.5-mile boardwalk, shut down since late March because of the coronavirus, will be open at dawn on Thursday.
The beach will open Saturday. But until June 28, the beach will be open on weekends only.
The openings come with numerous restrictions:
The beach will be open to residents only. Nassau County's nearby Nickerson Beach will also be open only to county residents.
Long Beach City Council president John Bendo noted that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has decided not to open city beaches, including nearby Rockaway beaches.
Bendo said Long Beach did not want its beaches to become overly-crowded, and so decided to open them to Long Beach residents only.
Long Beach beaches will allow only 50 percent capacity.
The city has hired a group of patrol officers to make sure social distancing is observed. Groups must be limited to 10 people or less.
Additionally, masks must be worn on the boardwalk when the social distancing of six feet is not possible. Bike use on the boardwalk will be limited and access allowed only from sunrise to 10 a.m. daily.
Concession stands will be open as will bathrooms, but strict social distancing will be required. Beach showers will remain off until further notice.
Group sports, such as volleyball, will not be permitted on the beach.
Seniors and people with disabilities will be able to purchase tickets at the Gazebo Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 am to 9 am. The re-opening of the beach and the boardwalk have been seen as key to Long Beach's economy. A number of restaurants, bars and surf shops depend heavily on summer beach crowds.
Bendo said there are no plans to limit resident beach passes.
The council also set next Tuesday, May 28, to vote on the city's proposed 2020-'21 budget, which calls for a 2.87 percent decrease in the general fund, to $83.2 million. That translates to a 1.81 percent tax increase, the smallest in years.