Virginia Beach will reopen Friday, May 22, but Gov. Ralph Northam warns that requirements on social distancing will be closely monitored.
Northam made the announcement during his regular news conference Monday afternoon.
Typically a kickoff for the tourist season, this Memorial Day weekend should see far fewer people on the beach than past years. New rules will be in place to prevent the type of crowds seen on other beaches in states that have already relaxed restrictions.
Tents and umbrellas for groups will be prohibited, along with group sports like volleyball, football and frisbee. Parking garages and surface parking near the beach will be limited to 50% capacity.
Only Virginia Beach will reopen. All other beaches in the state are limited to exercise and fishing, Northam said.
On the beach and boardwalk, there will be “beach ambassadors” monitoring compliance and “clean teams” for high-touch areas.
“Let me be clear: These rules must be followed,” Northam said. “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 close the beach outright, if necessary. My message to Virginias is this, and it’s very simple: You must be responsible.”
Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer also stressed that visitors to the beach must not take the opportunity for granted.
“Our city is committed to opening our beaches in a way that is safe for our residents, visitors and thousands of front-line staff who bring our beaches to life,” he said.