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Pandemic Parking Rules Draw ‘Aggression’ From N.H. Beachgoers As Temperatures Climb

Seacoast beaches have been crowded this weekend with people trying to beat the heat, though some coronavirus restrictions remain in effect. Parts of the shoulders of Route 1A have reopened for parking, but the state beach lots are only accepting 50 percent of their normal capacity to encourage physical distancing.

State parks employee Ethan Hackett was enforcing that parking restriction at Jenness State Beach on Saturday.

“Our spot limit is 55 right now,” he says. “So we’re under a lot of pressure from people coming from Maine, Mass – they’re all converging on this one very small spot.”

Asked if he thinks the policy is helping with safety, Hackett says it depends how you define that.

“Everyone here is accepting a risk, of course. And if they’re willing to accept that risk, I say more power to them,” he says. “I do think it’s important that we keep in mind that we are in the middle of a national pandemic - but I believe the 50% reduction is a step in the right direction, certainly.”

Still, he says some people have been irritable and even aggressive when they get turned away from the designated parking areas. He says the heat probably isn’t helping.

Annie has covered the environment, energy, climate change and the Seacoast region for NHPR since 2017. She leads the newsroom's climate reporting project, By Degrees.

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