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Verdun beach officially opens for the season with COVID-19 restrictions

Verdun beach opens for the season with strict COVID-19 restrictions
WATCH: It's going to be hot in Montreal for the next few days. What better way to cool off than by heading to the beach? The Verdun beach opened for the season on Thursday and as Phil Carpenter explains, beach-goers will not be able to frolic about as usual.

People wanting to use the Verdun beach to cool off this summer are now finally allowed to use it with all security services in place.

The Verdun beach was officially opened Thursday for the first time this summer, but with a number of restrictions in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Waves of 80 people are allowed in at a time for blocks of 45 minutes.  Borough officials say that’s to allow as many people as possible to make use of the facilities.

“The beach capacity is usually around 400 people,” explained Verdun Borough Councillor Pierre L’Heureux, “so it’s a big restriction for sure, yes.”

Read more: Verdun Beach closure doesn’t stop Montrealers from sunbathing, swimming

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Fences enclose the spot, beachgoers enter and exit from opposite ends of the site and everyone must sanitize their hands before entering. But not everyone is happy with the new rules.

“We came four times before and there was no limit,” Nehal Elbouhy complained as she waited for the second wave of bathers to enter the site.

Though most pools and beaches were closed because of the pandemic, this site had been accessible for weeks because there was no fence.

“People can swim in the river at their own risk,” said L’Heureux. “There’s nothing that prohibits this.”

He explained that on hot days the beach was crowded, raising alarms that people were not properly social distancing at the 400-person capacity beach.

“So we actually had a request from the City of Montreal,” he told Global News, “to open the beach under supervision to ensure a minimum of security.”

Read more: Coronavirus — Is Quebec reopening too fast?

The city finally gave the green light for beaches to reopen as of June 23 and it took just over a week for Verdun borough authorities to put security protocols in place.  That included installing a fence and hiring lifeguards who were initially told they wouldn’t be needed for the summer, according to L’Heureux.

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Elbouhy and others think the restrictions are too harsh, though.

“People are mad,” Elbouhy laughed.  “What are we supposed to do if this is our only option?”

Others thought the half-hour lineup was inconvenient but said they understood the necessity.

“Obviously it’s nicer not to wait but if it’s what we have to do to be able to swim, then I guess it’s fine,” Oscar Frohlich said, having a picnic with four friends on the beach after waiting half hour to get in.

Fadi Baccari, another beachger, agreed.

“This whole COVID thing, everything has to be limited,” he noted.

The beach will open from 10 am. to 7 p.m. daily, except after heavy rain, when authorities may have to close it to monitor water quality.

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