The tiny town of South Bethany has relaxed beach restrictions after Ocean City, MD decided to reopen its beaches and boardwalk on Saturday. South Bethany has about 550 residents and few businesses.
Effective Tuesday, a ban on all beach activities was loosened to allow peopleto use the area for exercise or for walking their dogs. Individuals are asked to follow the precautions recommended by the CDC on COVID-19, including hand hygiene and social distancing.
The Association of Coastal Towns has been meeting regularly on the status of beaches, with Gov. John Carney seeking input from officials. The group also sent a letter to Carney outlining its concerns.
The association, as well as the governor, had hoped Ocean City would be part of a coordinated strategy on reopening beach areas.
Stay at home orders remain in effect for both Maryland and Delaware, although Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan indicated that drivers of vehicles with out-of-state tags would not be ticketed and part-time residents have a right to visit their condos.
Meehan justified the move as a way to transition the tourism-dependent town toward the busy season. Hotels remain closed and restaurants are offering carryout service only.
Temperatures are expected to be on the cool side this weekend.
According to a post from South Bethany, the goal of the group is to “work together so that no one town would be inundated by crowds due to the action of another.”
Towns along the Delaware coast have varied situations, ranging from what are known as the “Quiet Resorts” on the south edge of the Delaware coast to party destinations like Dewey and Rehoboth Beach.
Both Rehoboth and Bethany have boardwalks that can draw crowds. Crowding on Rehoboth’s boardwalk and beach contributed to the City of Rehoboth Beach imposing a total beach and boardwalk ban,
The State of Delaware had never imposed a total ban.