Long Island wants its beaches fully open this summer

As people flocked to the beach on Wednesday to enjoy 80-degree weather, Nassau County officials called on the state to open beaches at 100% capacity for Memorial Day weekend.

"The risk of outdoor transmission is lower, and if you add sunlight and ocean breeze, it's basically nonexistent," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said at a press conference in Long Beach.

She said COVID-19 rates continue to drop as more and more county residents continue to get vaccinated. Curran said 52% of residents have had at least one dose of the vaccine, and new cases have declined by one-third in the past week.

Under current state rules, beaches are capped at 50% capacity. 

Last summer, businesses on and around the beaches struggled. They depend on beachgoers to keep them afloat. The summer revenue is also a significant portion of the budgets of many beach municipalities.

"The beaches are our lifeblood. They are the lifeblood of our economy," state Sen. Todd Kaminsky said. "They lift us up and they support our businesses year-round."

Even though the unofficial start of summer is weeks away, officials said the planning needs to start now.

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