Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the beach at Mauch Chunk Lake has been restricted to Carbon County residents since it opened for the season.

The decision was met with great support from residents and now commissioners are extending that exclusive access even longer.

Swimming and camping were both supposed to open to the general public July 1st. Non-county residents can now camp at Mauch Chunk Lake but unless they're paying to camp, they're still not allowed on the beach.

Swimming is for Carbon residents only until July 8th.

Commissioners want to be able to keep Mauch Chunk Lake's beach open, and keep COVID-19 from spreading.

"I don't want it to stop after this week. You see beaches in Florida or wherever it is, and they're closed. I don't want it to get to that point," said commissioner Rocky Ahner.

They think limiting the beach to their own residents is a big help.

"I want people to enjoy themselves and just keep opening it up as we go and then we can get back to 100 percent," said Ahner.

Of course, by restricting camping and beach access, the county has taken a financial hit. Gate and camp fees typically make up more than 40 percent of the more than $675,000 park budget.

"We're expecting a decrease of a minimum of S75,000 through the remainder of the operating year," said commissioner Chris Lukasevich.

Commissioners know depending on what happens with the virus, that deficit could grow. That's why they're now increasing park admission and camping fees for non-county residents.

"This rate increase that will not impact county residents, but non-county residents only will help notably offset that declination in revenue," said Lukasevich.

It's a move they say is being made with Carbon County residents once again at the front of their minds.

"They're paying for it in taxpayer dollars, compared to those who are coming in. So I think we were being fair to the county residents in increasing the non-county resident fares," said commissioner Wayne Nothstein.

The new non-county resident fees for Mauch Chunk Lake Park are as follows:

Daily admission fee (Adults) - Increasing from $7.00 to $10.00
Daily admission fee (Children) - Increasing from $5.00 to $7.00
(Same admission rates on weekends and holidays)

Tent camping - Increasing from $35.00/night to $40.00/night in-season
Extra vehicle fee - Increasing from $5.00/car to $10.00/car

Camping cottages - Increasing from $90.00/night to $100.00/night
Extra vehicle fee - Increasing from $5.00/car to $10.00/car

Again, admission and camping fees are not increasing for Carbon County residents.

Commissioners will be evaluating on a weekly basis when to reopen the beach to the general public.