Rehoboth Beach Mayor Paul Kuhns in Delaware said he was surprised to hear about Ocean City, Maryland’s, decision to reopen the beach and boardwalk to the public on Saturday.
Kuhns said he got the news Monday night after it was announced at the Ocean City town council meeting.
He said officials in beach towns up and down the Delaware coast will be keeping a close eye on Ocean City this weekend. “It’ll be interesting for us to see how it goes,” he said of the decision.
“I’m sure he’ll have his hands full,” Kuhns said, referring to Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan. In a press call Tuesday morning, Meehan said that he believed people understand that they have to maintain social distancing practices.
- Sign up for WTOP alerts
- ‘Do the right thing’: How Ocean City beach reopening will work
- Cold spring may shield Maryland crab fishermen from disastrous 2020
- Latest coronavirus test results in DC, Maryland and Virginia
- Coronavirus FAQ: What you need to know
- Coronavirus resources: Get and give help in DC, Maryland and Virginia
Meehan said he does not think allowing people to walk along the boardwalk or beaches in Ocean City violates Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s stay-at-home order. The order allows “essential activities,” including getting outside for walks or exercise, but it also bars “nonessential” travel.
Kuhns said that there’s been pressure to reopen the beaches in Delaware, and that grew after California and Georgia opened theirs. But, Kuhns added, “In both of those cases, I don’t know if that was the right thing to do.”
Kuhns warns visitors to Ocean City to keep in mind that if they should decide to visit Delaware, they’ll find closures in Rehoboth Beach.
“Our beach and our boardwalk are closed — even for exercising,” Kuhns said, adding that measure will remain the case until May 15.
He added that he is not counting on reopening the beach and boardwalk on that date, and believes the closures due to the coronavirus pandemic could be extended.
“I don’t necessarily think that here in Rehoboth that we’ll be opening up our beaches before Memorial Day. I think it’s probably at some point afterwards,” Kuhns said.
The mayor said he understands the impatience with stay-at-home orders. “Just like everybody else, I’m looking forward to things getting better with time. I want the residents and the businesses here to be able to get some semblance of normalcy as soon as possible,” he said.
Ocean City is in Worcester County, Maryland, about an hour south of Rehoboth Beach.
WTOP contacted the Worcester County Health Department for comment on the decision to reopen the beach and boardwalk.
Travis Brown, spokesman for the department, said in an email, “We just want to reiterate that all residents need to be following all executive orders from Gov. Larry Hogan, including social distancing, wearing masks, avoiding crowds and avoiding nonessential travel.”