It may be time for a return to school and work, but summer fun is not going anywhere just yet — in no small part due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The staples of a Long Island summer — open parks, campgrounds, beaches and pools fully staffed with lifeguards — will live on for several more weeks as officials Wednesday announced an extension of activities beyond Labor Day, considered the unofficial end of the season.
The move, announced in a joint news release from New York State Parks, the Suffolk and Nassau county executives and Discover Long Island, aims to offset some of the ravages of the coronavirus, which spread rapidly through the metropolitan area and prompted Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in March to close parks, beaches, shops, businesses as well as government agencies at all levels.
“The onset of COVID-19 cut the start of our summer season by two months, an impact that has crippled the businesses and attractions that make up Long Island’s $6.1 billion tourism industry and whose livelihoods critically rely on that seasonal business,” said Kristen Jarnagin, president and chief executive officer of Discover Long Island, the region’s official destination marketing and management organization. “This year summer doesn’t stop on Labor Day. The extension of our beaches, parks, campgrounds and attractions will help our small businesses and continue to boost economic recovery for the region.”
George Gorman Jr., regional director for the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, said: “Lifeguards continue to be on duty at several Long Island State Park Beaches, with the water temperatures in the low 70’s and the air temperature around 80’s it is one of the best times to go swimming in the waters around Long Island.”
That means state beaches are open. In Suffolk, county campgrounds and parks are open, and its beaches will operate on extended hours, with lifeguards on weekends through September. In Nassau, Nickerson Beach will be open with lifeguards at the ready on weekends through September.
“From golf courses, to playgrounds, to outdoor gardens and historic properties, throughout the pandemic I pushed to safely open and provide access to the wealth of amenities Nassau’s 70 parks and preserves have to offer — ensuring our residents could take full advantage and enjoy the summer season close to home,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, adding that she is “encouraging all to get out and safely explore Nassau County from our cherished downtown communities, to hiking trails, to our pristine beachfronts.”
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said keeping summer attractions going will help undo some of the economic damage the coronavirus outbreak brought to Long Island.
“In order to remain diligent in our fight against Covid-19, we must keep the businesses and attractions who make up the heart of our community a priority during these unprecedented times,” Bellone said. “By extending the season for our County Beaches, and encouraging residents to visit our campgrounds and beautiful parks it allows us to not only capitalize on outdoor attractions while the weather is still perfect for exploring but helps to provide stimulus to some of our most coveted tourism attractions across the island.”
Extensions at state parks are scheduled as follows:
• Field 6, daily until Sept. 20
• Field 2, weekends only (Sept. 12 and 13 and Sept. 19 and 20)
• Central Mall, daily until Sept. 20
• West Bathhouse, weekends only (Sept. 12 and 13 and Sept. 19 and 20)
• Field 2, daily until Sept. 20
• Field 3, daily until Sept. 13 and the weekend of Sept. 19 and 20
• Field 4, daily until Sept. 13 and the weekend of Sept. 19 and 20
• Field 5, daily until Sept. 20
• Main Beach, daily until Sept. 20
• East Beach, weekends only (Sept. 12 and13 and Sept. 19 and 20)
• Daily, until Sept. 20
• After Labor Day, weekends only (Sept. 12 and13 and Sept. 19 and 20)