Ocean City reopening beach, Mayor: “We do not anticipate a lot of people”

OCEAN CITY, Md. – The summer resort town announced overnight that it’s reopening its main attractions this weekend on Saturday, May 9th instead of the originally planned date of Friday, May 15th.

Ocean City’s Mayor Rick Meehan says this reopening is meant for people who want to get outside and get some fresh air. However there’s still some confusion because police aren’t going to be checking IDs to verify who is a nearby resident or even if visitors live on the Eastern Shore. Meehan is still telling people to follow the state’s stay at home order which means out of state visitors have to self quarantine for 14 days if they do travel here.

“Right now there are not very many people in Ocean City and even with this we do not anticipate a lot of people in Ocean City,” says Meehan. “Allowing the Ocean City beach and parking lot to open up sooner will help us to transition to smaller crowds in Ocean City as we move towards the building of the season and eventually Memorial Day weekend.”

Meehan says the town supports Governor Larry Hogan’s phased recovery adding that this announcement doesn’t override the state’s stay at home order. “There will be some additional visitors or people coming over to Ocean City and this will allow us to make that transition.”

Meehan says they do expect people from outside the resort town to visit but says police won’t be checking IDs or license plates to verify residence. “Police will be patrolling the boardwalk. The police presence and being able to converse with people to give them instructions or at least to bring to their attention when they may not be properly distanced.”

Non-essential businesses will stay closed but some carryout places will be open. In the case of Dolle’s Candyland, they’re an FDA approved facility and technically deemed essential but they weren’t prepared to open until May 15th.

“For this weekend we’re just going to open our carry out section of the store not the interior area because the interior area has not been updated for phase one business opening,” says Anna Dolle Bushnell. “Also [we’ve received] a lot of messages from people saying ‘Hey I’m coming down what are your hours going to be?’ And I was like I don’t know yet, I just learned that [the mayor is] going to open the boardwalk.”

Now Dolle’s is one of many businesses scrambling to get things ready in order to open safely and do what’s best for their business as they celebrate 110 years this summer. “There’s a lot of stuff we need to do to stay safe. I feel like it was really amped up like all of a sudden we’ve got to have everything implemented.”

47 ABC had the following “follow up” questions for Ocean City officials but we have not gotten them answered yet. Will parking fees go into effect on Saturday? If so, where? What time on Saturday do things reopen? Midnight on May 9th? Are Ocean City officials aware of a Facebook event called “Storm Ocean City” set for this Saturday?

Masks won’t be required but are encouraged and signage will be put all around the boardwalk to remind people to social distance. Ocean City’s Mayor also says that the hotel and rental restrictions are still in place. Those lodging businesses are still only allowed to take reservations for essential employees until May 22nd.

In a statement to 47 ABC Governor Larry Hogan says,  “This is a local decision, and it will be addressed by local officials.”

Categories: Local News, Maryland