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City of Hampton releases plan to restore beach access

After Virginia Beach beaches reopened to the public, Hampton is ready to follow suit. A detailed plan was released outlining ways to safely reopen city beaches.

HAMPTON, Va. — City officials have created and released a plan to fully restore public access to Hampton beaches beyond exercise and fishing.

This follows the highly-anticipated reopening of Virginia Beach beaches that drew hundreds to the Oceanfront over Memorial Day weekend.

The proposal notes that reopening the beaches could happen under Phase Two of the "Forward Virginia" plan only if Governor Ralph Northam gives his blessing. 

The plan outlines guidelines for Buckroe Beach, Grandview Beach, Outlook Beach and Coves as well as the Salt Ponds beaches. Officials have drawn up thorough plans for enhanced cleaning procedures, prohibited activities, parking, traffic, and monitoring and enforcement.

On Saturday, Hampton Spokesperson Robin McCormick briefly discussed the reopening process with 13News Now.

"We were told that no beaches were going to be able to open in Phase One, and I guess we were told Virginia Beach was. I'm not sure how that happened I'm not privy to all those conversations," said McCormick.

RELATED: Gov. Northam, hundreds visit Oceanfront during beach's reopening

Under the proposal, no group sports like volleyball and frisbee will be allowed and speakers, tent/umbrella grouping, gatherings of 10 or more people, and food trucks will be prohibited. Social distancing must be maintained at each beach. Crowd control will also be enforced on Buckroe Beach.

Parking will be reduced by 50% at Buckroe Beach and certain lots and shuttle services won't be available until Phase Three of the Commonwealth's reopening plan.

As for monitoring and enforcement, staffers from Parks, Recreation & Leisure will be on hand, acting as beach ambassadors and "first responders" if they see people breaking the rules. 

If someone chooses not to comply with the rules, they will be asked to leave. If the situation escalates, Hampton Police will step in.

City leaders developed this reopening plan with key new protocols in place to help prevent further spread of COVID-19.

Other changes include beach ambassadors. They will further educate people on what is allowed and not allowed under current phasing.

Hampton would also close its beaches when needed for public health and safety reasons.

Lacey Miller got the day off from work, so she and her friend packed their bags and went to Buckroe Beach Monday afternoon.

“We thought we'd come out here and just chill,” Miller said.

They expected to lay out in the sand, but that didn't happen. Lifeguards told several people Monday afternoon unless they’re walking or jogging, they can't hang out at the beach.

But there's mixed reaction. Miller said reopening Buckroe is good for business.

“I think it's a good thing, there's a lot of businesses in the area that benefits from people coming in,” Miller said. “I think opening the beach brings more business and that's what matters.”

There are others say it's too soon.

“Until we get a little more information, we should play it safe,” one beachgoer said.

RELATED: Northam faces criticism after not wearing face mask in public during Oceanfront visit

RELATED: Gov. Northam visits newly-reopened Oceanfront

View the full reopening plan below:

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