Ocean City‘s beaches and famous boardwalk will close beginning Sunday until April 15 in an effort to reduce transmission of the novel coronavirus.
Mayor Rick Meehan announced the closure, which goes into effect at 5 p.m. ET, in a Sunday meeting of the town council, stating that the measure is intended to protect those who live and work in Ocean City, Maryland.
“This is a difficult decision,” Meehan said. “Every one of us spent time today talking about this, and it’s to protect the health, safety and welfare of all of our citizens and to protect visitors that have come to Ocean City in the past.”
Meehan reiterated his statement from last week asking all potential visitors to Ocean City to cancel their trips.
“This includes nonresident property owners. This is the best time for them to stay home, close to their medical providers and medical services in their communities,” he said.
Residents who live within Ocean City’s corporate limits will be allowed to walk their dogs and exercise on the beach or boardwalk in groups of no more than two adults (children under 18 are not included in the count). The boardwalk and beach closure includes all beach access points, Meehan said.
Restaurants on the boardwalk will be allowed to remain open for carryout service only, Meehan said. He encouraged people to continue social distancing, which includes keeping 6 feet between individuals.
Non-compliance could be subject to civil or criminal penalty, Meehan said.
At a later date the April 15 ending date will be reevaluated and possibly extended, he said.
“We certainly hope this is a short-term measure,” Meehan said. “But we feel at this time it is the appropriate measure and the right thing to do for the town of Ocean City.”
Just to the north, the Delaware Beaches were ordered closed Saturday.