Beachgoers crowded the Virginia Beach oceanfront over the weekend as temperatures in the region reached the high 70s, despite restrictions Gov. Ralph Northam’s (D) temporarily implemented on beaches in the state amid the COVID-19 pandemic, The Virginian-Pilot reports.
Photos captured by the local paper showed droves of beachgoers, many whom could be seen not wearing masks, swarming the sands and waters at the oceanfront on Saturday. According to the newspaper, many also crowded gift shops at the oceanfront, buying items like snow cones and hermit crabs.
As the paper notes, the report comes as the region has begun to see a rise in temperatures recently. However, the sight of crowds at the oceanfront also comes as certain restrictions in Virginia that were implemented in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 remain in place at state beaches.
According to The Virginian-Pilot, under Northam’s current stay-at-home order, beaches in the state remain closed to the public for recreational purposes. But residents are still able to visit beaches to exercise or fish, so long as they adhere to social distancing guidelines.
However, after large crowds were at the Virginia Beach oceanfront over the weekend, Northam has announced that the beach will soon be reopened to the public in the coming days as the state continues to ease coronavirus restrictions amid the pandemic.
NBC station WWBT, in Richmond, Va., reports that Northam announced the state will be reopening Virginia Beach for recreational purposes on May 22. But, according the station, beachgoers will be required to follow social distancing guidelines and temporarily avoid certain activities that include items like tents, alcohol and speakers in order for the beach to remain open during the state’s first phase of Northam’s “Forward Virginia” reopening plan.
The station reports that remaining beachfront areas in the state will continue to be considered closed, however, until the state enters the second phase of the governor’s plan.