Beach gets ready to make the best of what could be a questionable summer during COVID-19


VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Thursday is opening day for the new Marriott at the Cavalier Marriott Resort. 

Developer Bruce Thompson spent the morning making sure the new $150 million hotel is ready.

“Reservations are picking up every day since the beaches have been announced to be open.  People are looking forward to coming down and getting out on the beach with social distancing in place, and doing all the things that will keep everyone safe,” Thompson said. 

Thompson serves on Gov. Ralph Northam’s COVID-19 Business Task Force and expressed concerns to 10 On Your Side in an exclusive interview that the governor did not follow his recommendation to have some indoor dining now.

“I don’t have any use for outdoor dining,” Thompson told us in that interview. 

Thursday was a perfect day to prove Thompson’s point. With drizzle and rain falling around his hotel, only a few were dining in the few outdoor seats. 

We asked Thompson about that.  

“I did not put any pressure on the governor. The governor already acknowledged our economic situation that we were in, and also, he clearly understood the health and safety came first,” he said.

Thompson also appealed to the governor to open the beaches to sunbathing, which the Northam agreed to Monday afternoon, effective Friday morning. 

“Outdoor dining is all we have had to offer right now, and unfortunately on days like today and rainy days, we’ve got a little bit of a challenge taking care of all of our hotel guests,” Thompson said. 

Some tourists want to know the beaches are open to sunbathing.  

Thompson told us, and Virginia Beach Hotel Association confirmed, as soon as Northam opened the beaches, reservations started to take off for June and July, but not in May.  

As for Friday and this Memorial Day weekend, Thompson predicts it will be busy.

“We are going to be busy. The problem we still have, we need to get social distancing in our hotels, and restaurants so they can fully open to accommodate the demand that we have from the hotel guests,” he said. 

10 On Your Side also caught up with Tom Gill, who heads Virginia Beach Lifesaving Services and leads the corps of Ocean lifeguards.

“Well, there’s not a lot going on out here right now because of the weather we’ve had all week, but we have been doing a lot of training and testing. We got guards coming back this year from years prior, and they are ready to rock, and we have a lot of new guards starting to train up now, and in a couple of weeks we will see them in the stands,” he said.  

We also heard a lot of sand blowers and equipment sprucing up the green areas near the boardwalk. 

The Superintendent of Parks and Landscaping Shawn Hopson lead a crew of at least 20.

“We had some nor’easter winds that blew sand up on the boardwalk and sidewalks,” Hopson said.  

Gill also pointed out Virginia Beach Lifesaving Services will not be responsible for telling people to social distance. 

“The city has put together a great social distancing program with everything they need to do to make this a safe and healthy environment for the people coming down here,” Gill said. 

Gill added there is a distinction between what the city will do to patrol social distancing with safety ambassadors, and the lifesaving services. 

“The great thing for the lifeguards is our focus on only one thing: watch the water, keep people safe, and in order to do that we have to have some [personal protective equipment], and a lot of different protocols in order to keep the guards safe,” Gill said.  

Gill said the number one concern is the safety of his employees and “everyone who comes down here.”

“So we are going to do a great job in making that work as best as possible. We have a great plan put together, but that is going to evolve just like every other city plan is evolving during this crisis,” he said.

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