Ocean City leaders say come for July Fourth ‘at your own risk’

FILE — People walk along the Ocean City boardwalk during Memorial Day weekend on Sunday, May 24, 2020. (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images)

Big crowds are expected at beaches for the Fourth of July holiday weekend, leading to more concerns about people potentially spreading the coronavirus.

The July Fourth weekend typically draws a huge number of people to Ocean City, Maryland, and leaders expect this year to be no different, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Acting Ocean City tourism Director Jessica Waters told WTOP “there certainly is a concern,” noting that “beach destinations across the country are noticing spikes.”

Ocean City already called off its annual fireworks display in an effort to stop people from gathering in one place.

Masks are not required in outdoor areas in Maryland, so Waters said it is a “go at your own risk” situation for people who choose to be among crowds.

“Visitors have to decide what they’re comfortable with,” said Waters.

Although Waters did urge everyone to wear a mask, public health officials recommend staying home if you’re sick and taking all other precautions.

“If you’re coming to the beach this weekend, really make sure that you are taking personal responsibility,” Waters said.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, photos circulated online showing massive crowds at Ocean City with most people not wearing masks. Waters said those photos only showed a narrow viewpoint of one area and did not represent the entire town.

“We’ve really seen great compliance so far,” Waters said, referring to mask-wearing and social distancing.

The potential of growing cases has already come to fruition in Delaware as state public health officials said there has been a surge of cases at beaches over the past week.

Some restaurants at both Rehoboth and Dewey beaches decided to close as a result. Three Rehoboth Beach lifeguards also tested positive for COVID-19.

“All lifeguards were notified of the exposure and will be tested within the next 24 hours,” Rehoboth police Chief Keith Banks said in a statement. “We believe at this time there was very little contact with the public.”

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

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Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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