Gov. Ralph Northam speaks during his COVID-19 media briefing Friday inside the Patrick Henry Building in Richmond.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced Monday that he will allow the city of Virginia Beach to reopen its beaches starting Friday, with some restrictions.

Northam said he was satisfied with a plan the city developed in conjunction with the state to reopen “beaches while maintaining safety, and social and physical distancing.”

Beachgoers will be allowed to sunbathe, swim, fish and surf under the plan. Banned are group sports, alcohol consumption, speakers, tents and umbrella groupings.

Beach parking will be limited to 50% capacity, and the city will roll out enhanced cleaning for high-touch areas.

“These rules must be followed. If people swarm these beaches … I will not hesitate to reinstate Phase One restrictions or close the beaches outright if necessary,” Northam said Monday during a briefing with reporters. “You must be responsible.”

Right now, Virginia’s beaches remain open only for exercise and fishing. States across the country’s eastern shore, including New York and New Jersey, have announced plans to reopen their beaches ahead of the Memorial Day holiday.

Northam said the order will only apply to beaches within Virginia Beach, including First Landing State Park. Northam said other localities that also wish to reopen their beaches should begin to develop plans similar to the one adopted by Virginia Beach.

“Virginia’s beaches offer important mental health benefits, rest, relaxation and exercise,” said Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer. “I believe we have a great plan, and I am prepared to stand by this great plan to ensure that when we open, we will be the safe beach that is required during this time.”


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