With the warmest temperatures of the year expected this weekend, the town of Rehoboth Beach will open its beach and boardwalk this Friday, May 15th.
It’s a cautious first step towards a full reopening, in line with the State of Emergency rules meant to limit large gatherings and perpetuate social distancing.
Sunbathers will not be allowed to lounge on the beach and ocean swimming is still prohibited.
Walking and exercising on the beach will be allowed from 6 am to 10 pm, leashed dog-walking will be allowed through May 29th, and public restrooms will be open in key locations.
Face coverings are recommended but not required in Rehoboth. That stipulation came down to an issue of enforcement, which Rehoboth Beach Police Chief Keith Banks said would be difficult.
The announcement was made during Governor Carney’s weekly COVID-19 press briefing, where he discussed ongoing conversations he has had with mayors of Delaware’s beach communities.
Mayor Paul Kuhns and city commissioners announced the plans after a more than four-hour virtual conference call with business owners and community members anxious not to let a beautiful weekend slip by without some use of the city’s attractions.
While the Governor had given permission in March for beaches to remain open for limited activity, some individual communities had implemented restrictions that went beyond the Governor’s restrictions.
“We had allowed beaches to be open for family walking, walking with your spouse, exercising on the beach in an individual kind of way. And my understanding is that he [Mayor Kuhns] is moving towards that so it wasn’t a decision that took us by surprise,” said Governor Carney.
The City of Rehoboth’s Phase One opening also allows tennis courts and the Farmer’s Markets to reopen.
Public restrooms will open May 15 at Rehoboth, Baltimore, and Delaware Avenues. And parking meters and permits will not go into effect until May 29.
The Rehoboth Police Department is also preparing for Saturday’s Reopen Delaware rally that will take place starting at Noon at the Rehoboth Bandstand. The rally has been dubbed “Storm the Beach,” a group which has more than 2,000 followers on Facebook.
According to the City’s website, the Rehoboth Police Department “is diligently engaged in strategic planning with our partners in the law enforcement community, to include the office of the Attorney General, to develop a plan of action to ensure public safety throughout this Saturday’s event.”
The Police Department also said that one of its primary missions is to uphold the the right of citizens to exercise free speech. “If necessary, compliance will be assured through various means from a verbal warning, to the issuance a civil violation, to a full-custody criminal arrest determined by the actions of the violator,” their website says.