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Cape Revenues Show Beachgoing’s Popularity In Pandemic

Signs and railings are set up to create one way lanes on and off the beach to maintain social distancing at Nauset Beach in Orleans. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Signs and railings are set up to create one way lanes on and off the beach to maintain social distancing at Nauset Beach in Orleans. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Revenue tied to beachgoing is the latest indicator that Cape Cod had a "much more robust season" than originally expected amid the restrictions, behavior changes and anxiety of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sen. Julian Cyr said Thursday.

On a Cape Cod Reopening Task Force conference call, Cyr ran through beach pass and sticker revenue updates for several towns in the region.

In Yarmouth, daily beach revenue this year was about the same as in 2019, and Sandwich, Barnstable and Brewster all took in more beach revenue this year than last — Sandwich had a 15% increase in sticker sales and parking pass revenue, Barnstable brought in 18% more revenue from passes and gate sales, and in Brewster, which did not offer weekly passes to non-residents but offered daily passes at a higher rate, revenue was up 25%.

Truro, Orleans and Falmouth all experienced dips of around 15% over 2019, Cyr said. A Truro resident, Cyr said much of his town's shortfall was attributable to a decision not to sell daily beach passes as a crowd-control measure. Orleans did not offer weekly passes to non-residents this year, he said.

At the Cape Cod National Seashore, revenue collections were similar to last year despite limitations including less staff, a later start to fee collections, and the trams for Coast Guard Beach running at half capacity, superintendent Brian Carlstrom said.

"Overall, the beaches staying open I think provided a relatively COVID-safe space for people to relax and rejuvenate and maybe spend some time with loved ones or friends in small groups," Cyr said. "Overall I think we saw very little or no community spread related to those activities."

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