The untouched beach and deserted boardwalk at 21st street on Tuesday morning. Image:

Ocean City to Reopen Beach, Boardwalk on Saturday

Ocean City, Maryland, the Eastern Shore’s vacation mecca, plans to reopen its beaches, inlets, and boardwalk this Saturday, May 9 as the state remains under a stay-at-home order.

It’s the most significant public space to reopen in Maryland since state and local restrictions began to ramp up to prevent further spread of COVID-19. It may be seen as a promising indicator of further loosening to come, but if you’re ready to toss your beach chairs into the car for a road trip to Ocean City, the governor’s office says not so fast. The new order is intended for locals, says Governor Hogan’s Communications Director, Mike Ricci.

In a joint statement, spokespeople for Governor Larry Hogan and the Town of Ocean City said, “This is a way to give nearby residents more opportunities to get outside and enjoy fresh air, while still adhering to social distancing guidelines and gathering limits. The governor’s stay-at-home order remains in effect.”

Mayor Rick Meehan’s new declaration specifies that “social gatherings (which shall include community, spiritual, religious, recreational, leisure and sports gatherings and events) of more than ten (10) people are prohibited in all locations and venues.”

The Town of Ocean City also stresses that the mayoral declaration does not supersede the governor’s order closing non-essential businesses.

Back on April 28, Mayor Meehan had extended closures of the beach, boardwalk and inlet parking lot until May 15. The April 28 declaration also extended restrictions on short-term rentals in Ocean City until May 22, and that rule has not changed.

To read Mayor Meehan’s newest declaration in full, go to:

-Meg Walburn Viviano