(The Center Square) – Beaches in Virginia Beach will reopen at a limited capacity for Memorial Day weekend, but will be shut down again if people are not following strict regulations, Gov. Ralph Northam said Monday.
These beaches, along with First Landing State Park, which is contiguous with Virginia Beach, will reopen starting Friday. The reopening does not apply to other beaches in the state.
Beach-goers will be allowed to sunbathe, swim, fish and surf, but will not be allowed to play group sports or use alcohol, speakers, tents or group umbrellas. Parking in parking decks and lots will be capped at 50 percent capacity and beach ambassadors will be enforcing the guidelines. There will be an enhanced cleaning schedule for high-touch areas.
“Let me be clear,” Northam said. “These rules must be followed. If people swarm these beaches and ignore social distancing rules or the regulations the city has put into place, I will not hesitate to reinstate phase one restrictions or even close the beach outright if necessary.”
Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer thanked the governor for letting the beaches reopen and said these regulations are a short-term inconvenience that are necessary to ensure people stay safe.
“Virginia’s beaches offer important mental health benefits through rest, relaxation and exercise,” Dyer said. “We have an opportunity to provide that safe outdoor space on one of the widest beaches on the east coast: Virginia Beach. Our city’s committed to opening our beaches in a way that’s safe for our residents, our visitors and thousands of frontline staff who bring our beaches to life.”
Northam said other beaches should use these guidelines as a model when they are allowed to reopen again.
“It’s disappointing to see the Beach half open,” Del. Jason Miyares, R-Virginia Beach said. “Mayor Dyer and his team put together a great plan that would have opened our beaches safely, and given our local businesses an earlier reprieve from this slow motion disaster. Nonetheless, it’s good that people will be able to begin their summer at an oceanfront that is safe and open for business.”
The commonwealth has 31,140 COVID-19 cases, 3,822 hospitalizations and 1,014 deaths, according to the Virginia Department of Health’s most-recent numbers. The percent positivity for COVID-19 tests has continued to go down. On May 14, the seven-day moving average for percent positivity was 15.6 percent; seven days prior, it was 18 percent.
COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus. The county has at least 90,263 deaths and more than 1.53 million cases. COVID-19 symptoms appear within two to 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell.
Article was originally published at Northam: Virginia Beach beaches can open for Memorial Day weekend