Thursday, September 29, 2022

Phase 2 of reopening at least a week away, but all beaches in the state allowed to open Friday

Yorktown Beach. (WYDaily file)
Yorktown Beach. (WYDaily file)

Virginia Beach was the first beach in the state to reopen, albeit with some restrictions in place, last Friday.

This Friday, all beaches in the state will be allowed to reopen, of course with the same restrictions as those applied in Virginia Beach – social distancing, no groups of more than 10 people; tents and group sports are also prohibited.

Gov. Ralph Northam made the announcement during a news conference Thursday.

“I expect everyone to follow the restrictions so people can be safe while enjoying our beautiful beaches,” the governor said.

Yorktown Beach will open Saturday with the following amenities, according to county officials:

  • The Yorktown Beach – sunbathing, swimming, and recreation permitted.  No groups larger than 10 allowed and social distancing must be practiced.  Group sports, tents, and alcohol are prohibited. Officials encourage beach-goers to visit during non-peak hours to avoid crowds.
  • All public parking lots will be open, including Riverwalk Landing Parking Terrace, Beach Picnic Area, and parking lots at York Hall, County Administration/Courthouse area, and Archer Cottage (corner of Read/Water streets).
  • Waterfront restroom facilities will be open. Practice social distancing if waiting in line for facilities.

In Hampton, beaches at Buckroe, Fort Monroe, Salt Ponds and Grandview will open for swimming, sunbathing and playing in the sand beginning Friday.

Parking at Buckroe Beach will be limited — the parking lot at the fishing pier (which is undergoing repairs) will be closed. The city will not open the overflow grass lots and will not run a shuttle bus to and from Jones Middle School. Barricades will be placed to notify people when lots are full.

Lifeguards will be on duty and beach “ambassadors” will be on hand to remind people of the guidelines:

  • No groups of umbrellas or groups of more than 10 individuals
  • Groups must be at least 6 feet apart
  • No group sports (such as volleyball, Frisbee, soccer, etc.)
  • No speakers
  • (No dogs and no alcoholic beverages, but those are already the rules)

Fort Monroe will limit parking at the beach areas and will not allow any parking on the grass. Ambassadors there will share information about the rules. The city will provide lifeguards in the Outlook Beach and coves area. The privately operated Paradise Ocean Club will also open its beach.

Salt Ponds and Grandview beaches already have limited parking, but ambassadors will be stationed there as well to provide information.

The Buckroe Farmers Market will also open Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the lot with the gazebo. It, too, is under enhanced safety precautions for its weekly sale of food and crafts.

Other measures the city is taking at Buckroe Beach and Park include:

  • Enhanced sanitizing of restrooms
  • Shelters and grills remain closed
  • Frequent sand sweeping
  • No food trucks
  • No concerts

The city is also opening its two golf courses, The Hamptons and The Woodlands, as well as the clay-court Hampton Tennis Center.

The Hampton Tennis Center building is closed, so a port-a-john will be provided. Players should also bring their own water.

Changes at the golf courses include:

  • Golfers are recommended to rent one cart per person, but doubles will be allowed.
  • No rental of clubs or equipment other than carts, which will be sanitized between uses
  • Tee times will be farther apart (10 minutes versus 6-7 minutes).
  • Food and beverages are for sale at the restaurants (pick-up window at The Woodlands; outdoor seating service available at The Hamptons); however, players should bring their own water for the course.

Northam on Thursday said much of the state is expected to enter Phase 2 reopening – looser restrictions on businesses and social gatherings – next week.

He said current coronavirus-related trends are “encouraging” but more data is needed before the state can start its second phase of reopening.

Here are Thursday’s numbers from the Virginia Department of Health.

“We want to be very careful and deliberate as we move forward,” Northam said.

The governor has previously indicated that the second phase of reopening would allow for social gatherings of no more than 50 people. He also has said he would loosen other restrictions in Phase 2, but hasn’t provided specific details.

Most of the state entered Phase 1 May 15 – some retail stores have reopened with limited capacity, but indoor gyms remain closed and restaurants are prohibited from offering dine-in service except for in outdoor spaces.

Also on Friday, Northern Virginia, Richmond and Accomack County will join the rest of the state in starting the first phase of reopening. Those areas delayed reopening after local officials expressed concerns they weren’t yet ready.

The requirement for all Virginians to wear face coverings while inside public spaces also starts Friday.

Public settings include:

  • Personal care and grooming businesses.
  • Essential and non-essential brick and mortar retail including grocery stores and pharmacies.
  • Food and beverage establishments.
  • Entertainment or public amusement establishments when permitted to open.
  • Train stations, bus stations, and on intrastate public transportation, including in waiting or congregating areas.
  • State and local government buildings and areas where the public accesses services.
  • Any indoor space shared by groups of people who may congregate within six feet of one another or who are in close proximity to each other for more than 10 minutes.

Face coverings

  • 10 years and older.
  • Worn inside.
  • Exceptions: Eating or drinking, exercising, trouble breathing and health conditions.
  • Enforcement: Warnings. Businesses that don’t adopt the policy could get their operating license pulled after a warning.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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John Mangalonzohttp://wydaily.com
John Mangalonzo (john@localdailymedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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