Crowds gather at VB Oceanfront for Memorial Day weekend; Northam commends city on reopening

Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Beach welcomed back visitors on Friday, nearly two months after being closed for anything except exercising and fishing.

Visitors returning to the beach will see signs promoting a more cautious day at the beach. Reminders about restrictions are also posted. 

“People got to realize it’s not going to be business as usual but that doesn’t mean you can’t still go down there and enjoy yourself,” Public Works Department spokesman Drew Lankford said. 

Aside from the “clean teams” and beach ambassadors, the city is preparing for Memorial Day weekend as usual.

“We’re putting in some extra crews. We’re extending hours to have crews down there cleaning up. We’re putting extra trash cans on the beach,” Lankford said. 

Governor Northam was at the Oceanfront Saturday and reminded Virginians to stay safe and stay conscious of the coronavirus outbreak over this Memorial Day weekend.

Northam said people should still practice safe social distancing guidelines over the holiday. There are still some parts of Virginia, including Accomack in our region, that have not moved to phase 1 of reopening and remain under the stay-at-home orders.

“I just commend the city of Virginia Beach; all of their staff that we have been working closely together for the last several weeks on a comprehensive plan that really encourages the cleansing, the social distancing, the education — as you can see with these signs and also the enforcement,” said Northam.

State officials warned extra law enforcement will be out on the roads enforcing speed limits.

Northam said the Virginia War Memorial’s annual Memorial Day ceremony would be held virtually this year and the state will be flying its flags at half-mast.

“I want to remind people of what Memorial Day means, and that is that, many men and women who wore the cloth paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we can have the freedoms we enjoy every day,” he said.

So the next question for many is what about the rest of the beaches throughout the Commonwealth. Northam says just as Virginia Beach has, other cities must make a similar plan.

“As soon as the other municipalities have a comprehensive plan that’s ready to move forward, we will entertain that and we look forward to all of the beaches being open in Virginia. But, again, we need to do it safely we need to do it responsibly and Virginia Beach took the lead on that,” he said.

Northam says next on their list is strategizing about how to open the inside of businesses using PPE or other methods. He says they need a policy that will keep everyone safe and are consistent across the commonwealth. He expects to make an announcement about that early next week.

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