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York beaches close amid coronavirus concerns

The Town of York said beaches are closed to the public indefinitely until the '(coronavirus) emergency is under control'

YORK, Maine — The Town of York announced Monday at the effective immediately town beaches are closed to the public and will remain closed indefinitely "with an expectation of lifting the closure when the (coronavirus) emergency is under control," town manager Stephen Burns said. 

The beaches closed are Cape Neddick Beach, Short Sands Beach, Long Sands Beach, and Harbor Beach. 

"I have made this decision in response to the Governor's Proclamation of State of Civil Emergency to Further Protect Public Health, triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, and because of reports of many people congregating on the beach when the overall directive from State and Federal government officials is that people should be staying home and practicing safe social distancing."

The town's local beach ordinance gives Burns the authority to close beaches. 

Despite Gov. Janet Mills, the Maine CDC, and federal officials urging social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic, Mainers as well as people across the nation, especially in California and Florida reports showed, headed out to beaches and other outdoor trails over the weekend. 

RELATED: Maine CDC urges caution while enjoying the great outdoors during coronavirus spread

By midday Saturday and Sunday, the parking lot at Popham Beach State Park was full, prompting the state of Maine to issue public safety warnings.

"In the interest of public safety, we ask that visitors observe the following: If you are not feeling well, DO NOT enter. Practice social distancing. DO NOT gather in groups of ten or more," the alert issued by The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry said, in part.

According to the Portland Press Herald, Burns said he is also working to close town parks after Mt. Agamenticus had a "huge" number of visitors on Saturday. He also said he plans to work with police to put closed signs on the Maine Turnpike exits near the beaches and parks. 

"Physical distancing does not mean staying inside 24/7," Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, said in a release. "The Maine CDC encourages people to get outside and take walks to breathe in fresh air, get some sun, and enjoy the state's beauty. But be smart and maintain a reasonable distance from others while doing so. Instead of hugging, find different, safe ways to show people that you care for them. Enjoy the great outdoors responsibly."

There are now 107 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maine as of Monday. 

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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