Hammond Beach’s season went very well this summer. As Director of this Park & Rec site, I mapped out the beach before the summer began and created about 10 spaces (roughly 12′ x 12′) that were all spaced about 15 ft apart. Patrons signed in with a lifeguard at the check-in desk. The guard took their names, phone numbers and time of arrival and instructed patrons to find an empty space. This system allowed for individuals or groups quarantining together to sit on the beach without masks. It also enabled us to perform contract tracing if necessary. The reason for the time stamp was to have a system in place where we could ask people to leave if we reached capacity (which nearly happened a few times). Patrons and guards were required to wear masks when walking to the beach and to their designated areas or to the bathrooms, which were cleaned daily by our guards.

We did have lifeguards, which was a plus I think especially for caregivers of young parents. (We would not have been able to be open without guards for liability reasons). Since there is no way to socially distance while performing a water rescue we had a preseason meeting with all the guards wherein Gordon and I explained that in their role as first responders, the presence of Covid-19 was an added risk, but part of the job. They were given PPE, hand sanitizers, and masks.

We really had no problems in terms of people following the rules. The only times it became tricky was when children would swim and play together in the shallow area and many parents appeared not to enforce strict social distancing with their children. Our lifeguards would give gentle nudges, but for the most part it remained a parenting decision and the guards were really there to guard. Fortunately the risk of outdoor spread is low, so perhaps that was guiding these folks in their actions. I will say that when the adults were in the water with their children they did keep their distance from other parties.

Happily, the beach saw an uptick in users from previous years. I think people were glad to have a safe place to go. All in all our lifeguards did an excellent job this year and were largely the reason the system worked so well.

—Marina Kotchoubey


📸: Hammond Beach, from the Hammond Beach Facebook Page.