LONG BEACH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Long Island political leaders are calling on state officials to allow their beaches to open at 100% capacity.

COVID-19 cases have dropped dramatically, and vaccinations are on the rise. That means it’s safe, they contend, to repeal the 50% capacity rule in place since last summer, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Wednesday.

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You can have ice cream for dessert at Beach Burger on the boardwalk of Long Beach. But as Memorial Day approaches, small business owners here remain on edge.

“We are just guessing every day, and in a small business you don’t have the extra revenue or money to make guesses,” said Beach Burger’s Stacy Anselmo.

Many are saying decisions about the summer need to be made now. If local beaches open to non-residents, will the Long Island Rail Road add trains? What about lifeguards, safety protocols, and hiring?

“A lot of our staff are high school students that are local and college students that come back,” Ralph Anselmo said, adding what asked if he wants to prepare now, “Yes, so they know they have a job with us.”

COVID VACCINE

Current state rules limit beach capacity to 50%. Long Island lawmakers say that needs to be expanded.

“We’ve written a bipartisan letter to the New York State health commissioner saying that last summer’s beach guidance is no longer relevant,” state Sen. Todd Kaminsky said.

Rate of vaccination is rising and COVID-19 cases are declining. Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said with sunlight and ocean breezes, the outdoor risk drops.

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“We are asking the state to allow our beaches to open at 100% capacity this summer,” Curran said.

Beachgoers told McLogan they agree with the lawmakers.

“I had my second shot on Monday, so I think if you are vaccinated or maintain your distance, I think it’s okay,” Dianne Anderson said.

“With the vaccination rate going up, they should open up more,” Long Beach resident Patrick Orna said. “But 100% I’m not sure about.”

“I’m kind of cautious about it, but I think it’s a good thing because people have been cooped up,” resident Gary Smith added.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Beach business is the lifeblood of the economy.

“This is a significant portion of our budget each year, and losing half of the revenue from this has to be made up somewhere else. And that often means on the back of taxpayers,” Long Beach City Council President John Bendo said.

It appears everyone is waiting on a decision from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

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The Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach, which was canceled last year, will return this Memorial Day weekend, but with crowds limited to 50%.

Jennifer McLogan