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York hires Beach Ambassadors to enforce COVID-19 rules

The Town of York has hired 13 Beach Ambassadors to educate beach-goers about state, local, and federal rules and regulations as it relates to the coronavirus.

YORK, Maine — If you're planning to head to the beach this holiday weekend, keep in mind Maine CDC guidelines, such as that physical distancing and face covering requirements apply there as well.

To help Maine communities ensure safety on their beaches and in their towns the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) last week awarded more than 90 grants to Maine communities to make this happen.

York is one of the towns that received a grant.

In fact, if you visit Long Sands Beach in York this summer it will be hard to miss the parks and recreation employees. Workers, who wear lime green t-shirts, are the town's brand new beach ambassadors.

"We walk up and down. We talk to different folks, just kind of be a happy face, a nice face for the community," Joey Slusher said.

Slusher is one of 13 ambassadors whose job it is to help educate beach-goers.

"I just talk with people, let them know the rules and make sure they are complying with the new regulations."

"They remind folks about social distancing they help folks find spots on the beach that will be social distancing from other groups," York Parks and Recreation Director Robin Cogger said. She says the new ambassador program is part of the town's Public Health Campaign.

Credit: NCM

"What we are trying to do is continue to move forward with our effort to keep York and Maine healthy."

The town hopes to do that through education and enforcement.

"It's definitely cut down on our call volume," York Police Lt. John Lizanecz said.

He says their number one goal is voluntary compliance and so far this program has been a tremendous help making that happen.

"We have not had to enforce by summonses or charging anyone and we are hoping that is going to continue throughout the season," Lt. Lizanecz said.

The beach ambassadors say so far people have been receptive.

"Even folks who have come from out of town local I've talked to if they are breaking a rule either they typically didn't know and I go talk to them and let them know and they are fine," Slusher said.

York Police say fines for violations under Maine's emergency order could reach as high as one-thousand dollars. Town violations start at $100. However, police say fining or charging people for these violations is a last resort.

RELATED: Mills to sign order mandating enforcement of face coverings

RELATED: Maine begins third phase of reopening plan amid COVID-19

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At NEWS CENTER Maine, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus

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