Norfolk: ‘Our beaches are not closed,’ but restrictions still in place as VB beaches plan to reopen


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Just one day after Gov. Ralph Northam announced Virginia Beach’s beaches could reopen starting Friday, Norfolk is reminding residents its own beaches are not fully closed — they’re just only open for exercise and fishing.

City Manager Chip Filer released a statement Tuesday evening saying the beaches are still open to fishing and exercise — per an earlier order by the governor — and Norfolk is “proud” to have more than 7 miles of bayfront beaches for its residents to use.

Filer claims the governor did not choose to allow Virginia Beach to open its beaches because they had made a plan, but because the city’s economy relies on tourism at the Oceanfront.

“Subsequently, Virginia Beach was asked to submit a plan in the event they were allowed to open. The Governor has also made it clear; this is a pilot program,” Filer wrote in the statement.

“Norfolk is hopeful that Virginia Beach visitors adhere to the guidelines so the Governor will ease restrictions on other Virginia localities with beach amenities. Norfolk will be ready when that day comes,” Filer added.

Meanwhile, Virginia Beach sent out a news release Tuesday detailing the conditions of the beach reopening.

The city’s plan for reopening beaches includes measures to maintain social distancing and safety, including cleaning high-touch surfaces, educating guests about social and physical distancing and enforcing regulations through beach ambassadors.

The governor’s order also includes these restrictions:

  • Keep six feet apart unless family
  • No groups of more than 10 people
  • No speakers
  • No large coolers
  • No alcohol
  • No tents OR groups of umbrellas
  • No group sports (volleyball, football, Frisbee, etc.)

Public parking space is also limited to 50 percent and beach playsets remain closed.

“Our city is committed to opening our beaches in a way that’s safe for our residents, visitors and the thousands of frontline staff who bring the beaches to life,” said Mayor Bobby Dyer, who was invited to participate in Monday’s news conference with the Governor. “We must not take this opportunity for granted. It’s up to each of us to be safe and proactive when visiting our beaches. Whether you want to exercise, take advantage of the mental health benefits the ocean and fresh air provides, or enjoy a relaxing day with family or friends, we look forward to having people back to the beach—at a distance of at least six feet. Since we have 28 miles of ocean and bay beaches, there’s plenty of room to spread out,” Mayor Bobby Dyer said in the city’s news release Tuesday. 

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