VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The message is clear at the Oceanfront. It says it’s in your hands. City leaders say they hope people follow the rules so the beach can stay open all summer.
There’s a plan in place and city leaders hope you stick to it. Officials hired more than 100 beach ambassadors to make sure rules are followed.
“Our beach opening plan is to make sure people can recreate and enjoy the beach while maintaining physical distancing,” explained Virginia Beach Deputy City Manager Ron Williams.
Williams said the capacity per block on the beach is roughly 1,600 people. He said if it gets too packed, people will be asked to move or leave.
Williams said, “We have drone surveillance and we have the public safety team and ambassador team.”
No speakers, large coolers, tents or groups of umbrellas are allowed this Memorial Day weekend or for the foreseeable future. Group sports like football, volleyball and frisbee are also prohibited.
“What Governor Northam issued does still require six feet between individuals and no more than ten people in a group,” Williams said.
While the rules are disappointing for some, Russell Lyons with the Virginia Beach Hotel Association said the beach reopening is bringing business back.
“We had bookings instantly for later in the summer. For July, August but June is picking up but more slowly than usual,” Lyons said.
Memorial Day Weekend is one of the busiest weekends for the Oceanfront. Hotels are usually fully booked. Unfortunately this year, Lyons anticipates 50% occupancy, but he said it’s weather-dependent.
Restaurants were eager to fill outside dining on Friday, after a week of rain.
“When we opened up last Friday the first customers that walked up, I truly wanted to hug them,” said Rockafeller’s Owner BJ Baumann.
Baumann is also the president of the Virginia Beach Restaurant Association. She said outside dining is appreciated, but unpredictable.
“We are most anxious for the Governor to allow us to open up inside,” Baumann said.
The association set a gold standard of guidelines restaurants should follow, to help them get there.
“It’s a combination of things from the CDC, OSHA, the national restaurant association and state association,” Baumann said.
Baumann hopes that will help jumpstart Phase 2.
“The majority of the resort businesses get 70 percent of their business during June, July and August,” Baumann said. “So, we cannot afford to miss all of that season.”
Leaders say ambassadors plan to work until 7:30 p.m., seven days a week, until Labor Day Weekend.