The beach areas got through the Memorial Day weekend with very few problems. This time around, there was none of the unwelcome national attention saw around St. Patty’s Day – shortly before stay at home restrictions went into effect.
The weather helped, with lower temperatures, a little rain and cloudy conditions discouraging impulse travelers and the party-hearty crowd.
Those from out of state were advised that the largely unenforceable quarantine remained in effect with only carryout options for food and drink.
It was a similar story elsewhere along the Mid-Atlantic. Business was slow on the Jersey shore. While Ocean City, MD saw big crowds on the boardwalk sans facemasks, overall activity appeared to be down, with none of the legendary traffic snarls.
Delaware’s beach economy paid a high price for not opting for a full reopening. Hotels and owners of second homes lost badly needed income from out of staters who might have otherwise opted for a weekend at the beach. By contrast, hotels were open across the line in Ocean City.
Still, the state and the region reduced the chances of a potentially crippling future outbreak and sent a clear message that good behavior is expected.
As this column was being written, it is not clear on when or to what extent Carney will ease restrictions at the beach and elsewhere. We do know that restaurants and retailers can reopen at 30 percent of capacity beginning on June 1.
Our hope is that hotels get similar breaks. One sticking point that does not get enough attention is regulating app-based short-term rentals (Airbnb and similar sites), especially if landlords are not in the immediate area to keep tabs on parties etc.
These issues are nothing new but take on added importance in the COVID-19 era. We don’t know as much as we should about coronavirus, but it is clear that COVID loves crowded conditions, especially indoors.
Gov. John Carney, time and again, has referred to reopening the state as using a dimmer switch, rather than turning the lights on all at once.
It appears that the strategy worked over Memorial Day. It is now time to move the dial a little further. –Doug Rainey, chief content officer.