(March 22, 2020) Closed until further notice — Ocean City officials chose public safety above all else Sunday afternoon, and have banned access to the resort’s beach and Boardwalk until April 15, to block the spread of COVID-19.
As of Sunday, March 22, the virus has affected 244 Marylanders, two in Worcester County, and claimed three lives.
“Beginning today, Sunday March 22, 2020, at 5 p.m. the Ocean City Boardwalk and all beach areas, including beach access points shall be closed until April 15, 2020,” Mayor Rick Meehan said following a closed discussion that lasted two and a half hours.
Residents will be allowed to walk their dogs and exercise on the Boardwalk, but are restricted to groups of two adults and two minor children.
Boardwalk restaurants may remain open, but are limited to carry out services, only.
The city continues to seek voluntary compliance, but Meehan said violators would face civil or criminal consequences if that honor system fails to work.
The mayor foreshadowed this decision last week when he urged citizens and visitors to stay home and self-isolate.
“While we look forward to the time when we can welcome you again, now is not the time to visit Ocean City,” Meehan said last Thursday, March 19. “We are urging citizens to stay home, be responsible and avoid crowds, including on our beach and Boardwalk.”
Apparently, the mayor’s request was not enough, as people continued to congregate on the Boardwalk on Saturday, prompting him and the City Council to use their authority to impose stricter restrictions in a six-to-one vote. Voting in opposition to the closure was Councilman Matt James.
“This is a difficult decision,” Meehan said. “It’s to protect the health and safety and welfare of all of our citizens, and to protect those visitors that have come to Ocean City in the past. We continue to ask all visitors to postpone, delay their visit to Ocean City.”