RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — During his Monday afternoon coronavirus briefing, Gov. Ralph Northam announced that he would be reopening public beaches in Virginia Beach starting this Friday, but that there would be restrictions.
Beaches are still closed across the commonwealth, except for fishing and exercise.
The announcement comes as Virginia reported 752 new COVID-19 cases and 5 new deaths on Monday, the lowest single-day increase in deaths since April 14.
Updates from Northam’s press conference:
Virginia Beach’s beaches reopening
Northam says on Friday, May 22, Virginia Beach can reopen its beaches to sunbathers with many restrictions.
Parking garages and surface parking lots will be capped at 50 percent capacity to limit crowds.
Northam emphasized that beachgoers must still practice social distancing or the beaches will be closed again.
“It’s very simple. You must be responsible,” Northam said.
Prohibited activities include group sports and fishing from the 1st Street Jetty to 42nd Street. Tents and groupings of umbrellas, speakers and alcohol are also prohibited.
Virginia phase 1 reopening: A detailed look at what changes
The bayfront beach at First Landing State Park will also be open for visitors but the same restrictions apply.
The order applies to public beaches in Virginia Beach only, as the city submitted a comprehensive plan that Northam’s office reworked. Other beaches in Virginia will remain closed until phase 2 of Virginia’s reopening plan.
After Monday’s announcement, Hampton City Manager Mary Bunting said the city’s beaches would be ready to open as soon as they’re allowed.
“We know our residents are very eager to go to the beach for the holiday weekend and beyond, but we have to wait until the state gives us clearance. We will be ready to open as soon as we are allowed,” Bunting said.
More on Virginia Beach’s plans here: Clean teams, beach ambassadors and ‘parking lot restaurants’? Virginia Beach lays out plan to reopen
Virginia Beach’s plan calls for cleaning teams and “beach ambassadors” that will be stationed at beach access points and ask for voluntary compliance with social distancing rules.
“We’ve established an ambassador system, I believe 150 people, where people will diplomatically come and say ‘please maintain your distancing‘ or maybe just ‘relocate, don’t congregate,” Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer said.
He also stressed the importance of compliance, saying it’s everyone’s responsibility.
“Let’s remember, this is short-term inconvenience for long-term gain. We have to ensure that we are safe,” Dyer said.
1 child with multisystem inflammatory syndrome in Va.
Also on Monday, State Health Commissioner Norm Oliver confirmed that Virginia health officials have seen a single case of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in a child, which has been recorded in about 200 children with COVID-19, the New York Times reports.
The condition has many similarities to Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome, causing inflammation throughout the body, the World Health Organization says. Instead of attacking the lungs like the primary COVID-19 infection, it affects the heart and can appear weeks after initial infection for children who don’t have typical coronavirus symptoms.
Oliver says his staff just heard about the diagnosis and it hasn’t yet been reported by the Virginia Department of Health. Oliver didn’t have the child’s age.
Full press conference below: