Gateway National Recreation Area Provides Recreational Access for Riis Park and Fort Tilden for Memorial Day Weekend

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Date: May 20, 2020

Contact: Brenda Ling, 347-216-0395

Queens, N.Y. – Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities, Gateway National Recreation Area will continue to provide limited recreational access and services at Riis Park and Fort Tilden for the Memorial Day weekend. The National Park Service (NPS) is working service wide with federal, state, and local public health authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis.

With public health in mind, please note the following for the Memorial Day weekend at Riis Park:

  • Riis Beach is currently closed to swimming and bathing. Lifeguards will not be on duty for Memorial Day weekend. The beach is accessible for passive recreation, such as walking and running.
  • Parking is reduced to 50% capacity.
  • Fees will not be collected for Memorial Day weekend but will resume in June.
  • Picnic Area is temporarily closed. Barbecuing and group picnicking are currently not allowed within Jacob Riis Park.
  • Limited bathrooms facilities will be available.
  • Sports, group activities, and gatherings are not permitted. Sports courts are temporarily closed.
  • Playground is temporarily closed.
  • Food service is take-out only. Congregating inside or immediately outside food service providers is prohibited.
  • Coolers that are more than 24 quarts in size are not allowed.

The Fort Tilden Beach is unprotected. Swimming is not permitted. The beach is accessible for passive recreational activities, such as fishing, walking, and running. Please also note the following:

  • Fort Tilden is closed to un-authorized vehicular access.
  • Parking is typically not available within Fort Tilden except by permit from Memorial Day-Labor Day. 
  • The Fort Tilden Group Picnic Area is temporarily closed. Special Use Permits for the Fort Tilden Picnic Area are not being issued until further notice.
  • Limited port-a-johns will be available.
  • Sports, group activities, and gatherings are not permitted. Sport fields and courts are temporarily closed.
  • Coolers that are more than 24 quarts in size are not allowed.
  • 2019 Fishing Permits will be honored in the 2020 season.
  • Rockaway Artist Alliance and Rockaway Theater are temporarily closed to public programming.

Park rules and regulations remain in effect for Riis Park and Fort Tilden. Standard Operations include:

  • Alcohol is prohibited throughout the park, except in designated areas or by permit.
  • Smoking is only permitted in designated parking areas.
  • Dogs must be leashed at all times. Dogs and kites are not allowed on beaches from March 15-September 15.

Beach rules for Riis Park and Fort Tilden include no alcohol, no smoking, no tents or shelters, and no glass containers. Visitors are not allowed to access areas with symbolic fencing; climb on groins, or enter the dunes (except at designated dune crossings). Visitors are encouraged to follow social distancing guidelines.

The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners continues to be paramount. At Gateway, our operational approach will be to examine each facility function and service provided to ensure those operations comply with current public health guidance and will be regularly monitored. We continue to work closely with the NPS Office of Public Health using CDC guidance to ensure public and workspaces are safe and clean for visitors, employees, partners, and volunteers.  

While these areas are accessible for visitors to enjoy, a return to full operations will continue to be phased and services may be limited. When recreating, the public should follow local area health orders, practice Leave No Trace principles, avoid crowding and avoid high-risk outdoor activities.
The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases. We will continue to monitor all park functions to ensure that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19, and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health.   

Details and updates on park operations will continue to be posted on our website and social media channels (@GatewayNPS). Updates about NPS operations will be posted on

About Gateway National Recreation Area

Gateway is a large diverse urban park with 27,000 acres spanning Sandy Hook in N.J. and Jamaica Bay and Staten Island in N.Y. It offers green spaces, beaches, wildlife and outdoor recreation, all alongside historic structures and cultural landscapes. It is the 4th most visited National Park Service unit with more than 9.2 million annual visitors. For more information about Gateway, visit

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