RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia Beach will reopen to swimmers, surfers, and sunbathers on Friday, May 22, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced Monday.
The reopening of Virginia Beach comes with restrictions, the governor warned.
Group sports, alcohol, speakers, tents, and groupings of umbrellas are prohibited.
Additionally, parking will be capped at 50% capacity in parking garages and surface lots.
The City of Virginia Beach will have beach ambassadors monitoring compliance and enhanced cleaning schedules for high touch areas.
“Let me be clear, these rules must be followed,” Northam said.
“If people swarm these beaches and ignore social distancing rules are the regulations the city has put into place. I will not hesitate to reinstate Phase One restrictions or even close the beach outright if necessary.”
Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer has been calling for the beach to be reopened for weeks, saying the city had a plan to enforce social distancing and that the beaches were essential to the city's economy.
“I thank Governor Northam for granting us the privilege today to open in a phased and safe way,” said Dyer Monday. “Our city is committed to opening our beaches in a way that's safe for our residents, visitors and thousands of frontline staff who bring our beaches to life.”
“I believe we have a great plan and I am prepared to stand by this plan to ensure that when we open we will be the safe beach that is required in these most challenging times."
Dyer urged beachgoers not to take the reopening for granted.
"I urge have our visitors and residents to adhere to the rules regulations,” he added.
The reopening only applies to Virginia Beach and First Landing State Park, which is contiguous to Virginia Beach.
Northam said he would encourage other beach localities to use the Virginia Beach plan as a model for how they can develop plans to enforce restrictions once they are allowed to reopen for recreational use.
This is a developing story.