Ocean City, Maryland, will reopen its beach and boardwalk on Saturday, officials announced on Monday.
The beach, which normally welcomes some 8 million visitors a year, will be the first in the Mid-Atlantic region to reopen.
While social distancing measures will remain in place, the beach, all access points, the boardwalk, and parking lots will reopen, Mayor Richard Meehan said in a declaration.
“This is a way to give individuals more opportunities to get outside, exercise and enjoy fresh air, while still adhering to physical distancing guidelines and gathering limits,” a statement from his office said.
Visitors to the popular beach town won’t be required to wear a mask, Meehan said at a press conference on Tuesday, according to CBS.
“Right now there are not very many people in Ocean City, and even with this we do not anticipate a lot of people in Ocean City, but there will be some additional visitors,” he said.
“We’re only at the first weekend in May, and typically even in this time of year in our crowds are much smaller than they’re going to be as you get into the end of the month or into June and particularly into July.”
Restrictions on rentals are still in place, having been extended through May 22.
Meehan said people should still comply with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s stay-at-home order. A spokesman for Hogan said in a statement issued with an Ocean City spokeswoman late Monday that the order “remains in effect.”
It said the change was for “nearby residents.”
Hogan’s order forbids so-called non-essential travel.
Some beaches in New Jersey are slated to reopen Friday but most beaches in Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia are closed or restricted to local residents with no immediate indications of reopening.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said this week some businesses may be able to reopen on May 15. Hogan and Delaware Gov. John Carney haven’t yet issued a target date for reopening.
Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer, in a letter sent Monday, asked Northam to allow the town to reopen its beaches.
Bethany Beach’s Town Council said last month it voted to continue the closure of its beach and boardwalk until June 1. It will reconsider the ban then.
In a joint letter to Carney on May 1, Bethany Beach and six other coastal towns in the state said they’d follow a three-phase plan that won’t allow swimming or sunbathing until the third phase, the Salisbury Daily Times reported.
“Delaware is not yet in the position to know when the Phase 1 economic recovery will start,” the town managers said, meaning they “cannot foresee at this time a specific date for reopening our many beaches.”