Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and the Outer Banks beaches: what’s open and what’s not

Beaches across Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and in the Outer Banks have reopened or are slowly beginning to restore access.

Here is the status of some of the most popular in our region.

Ocean City, Maryland

Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan reopened the resort town's beach, Boardwalk and Inlet parking lot May 9. 

The city's popular attractions had been closed since the end of March in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

An aerial view from a drone shows an empty parking lot and beach on April 27, 2020 in Ocean City, Maryland. The beach and boardwalk were closed after Maryland Governor Larry Hogan issued a stay-at-home order and banned non-essential travel to slow th

Restrictions on short term rentals were lifted last week.

Meehan said the reopening is a way to give locals more opportunities to get fresh air, get outside and exercise. He said people who come to the beach and walk on the Boardwalk would still need to adhere to physical distancing guidelines and gathering limits.

Sandy Point State Park

Sandy Point State Park will be opened and outdoor recreational activities such as walking, jogging, running, swimming, fishing and sunbathing will be permitted, however:

Guidance on social distancing must be followed.

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The prohibition on social gatherings (no more than 10 people) must be strictly followed.

Assateague Island National Seashore Beaches

Assateague Island National Seashore has restored access to recreational beaches, nature trails, MD OSV Zone, and parking areas and restrooms at North Beach, South Beach, Ferry Landing and Bayside Peninsula.

- Recreational beaches, parking areas and restrooms at North Beach, South Beach, Ferry Landing and Bayside Peninsula

- The Maryland District Over Sand Vehicle Zone (OSV)

- Valid OSV permits are required. OSV permit sales will be available at the Maryland District visitor contact/ranger station.

- Nature trails in the Maryland District

With public health in mind, the following facilities remain closed at this time:

- Assateague Island National Seashore Visitor Center in the Maryland District and the Toms Cove Visitor Center in the Virginia District

North Beach, Maryland

North Beach is a small beach community on the Chesapeake Bay, which is still partially closed-off to the public – something Mayor Michael Benton says he’s been getting lots of angry calls over.

“We’re trying to be as safe as possible,” said North Beach’s Mayor, “We’re surrounded by a lot of hot pockets right now. I mean we’re around a lot of communities – counties that haven’t even opened up and are not going to open up until June. We don't want to restrict everyone that comes here. What we were trying to do is make a safe environment for everybody.” 

Mayor Benton told FOX 5 he and the North Beach Council decided to only reopen the boardwalk, bike lanes, bathrooms, the Third Street Park and pier (although the pier is closed-off to fishing). That fishing area, other parks and the beach are still closed-off to residents and visitors. The mayor also said they’re asking people not to tailgate or set-up folding chairs on the boardwalk. 

Virginia Beach, Virginia 

The city of Virginia Beach will be opening its beaches for recreational activity on Friday, Governor Ralph Northam announced on Monday.

The beaches will open for sunbathing, swimming, fishing and surfing, but activities like group sports and alcohol consumption will still be forbidden.

In addition, parking will be capped at 50 percent capacity, and crews will be assigned to what the governor described as “enhanced cleaning schedules.”

Northam warned that if people fail to heed social distancing guidelines, the restrictions put in place during the COVID-19 outbreak will be quickly re-established.

Bethany Beach, Delaware 

The coastal town of Bethany Beach and its boardwalk will be closed to the public through May 31 amid the coronavirus pandemic. All special events, including Memorial Day celebrations and the Fourth of July parade along with fireworks, will be canceled until July 15.

Pay-to-park requirements and parking enforcement will be suspended until the beach and boardwalk are reopened. Parking will be restricted to residents only outside the downtown business area and a resident parking tag will be required once things open back up, according to the council. 

Short term rentals are still on hold and social distancing is still in effect, according to town officials.  

The town trolley will not run until Maryland lifts its social distancing requirement and the council says it will not permit any communities outside of Bethany Beach to use commercial vans to enter the town and discharge passengers during this time.

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Delawareans will resume activities such as swimming and sunbathing on Delaware State Park beaches for Memorial Day weekend, with existing restrictions on beaches being lifted by the Governor effective Friday, May 22 at 5 p.m.

Out-of-state visitors who have maintained a 14-day quarantine since entering the state are also allowed to resume activity on Delaware beaches.

Since March, beach activities had been limited to exercising, dog-walking and restricted surf fishing as part of precautions against the spread of coronavirus. 

Campgrounds remain closed through at least May 31.

To carry out Gov. Carney’s phased reopening of Delaware beaches, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced the following for state parks:

- Current restrictions on beach activity will be lifted starting 5 p.m. on Friday, May 22. Sunbathing, swimming, picnicking, surfing, kayaking, walk-on surf fishing and other activities will be allowed to resume for Delawareans and for those from out-of-state who have quarantined 14 days.

- At least 6-foot distance will be required on beaches among those from different households. Masks or face coverings are encouraged to be worn on beaches.

- Cape Henlopen, Delaware Seashore and Fenwick Island state parks will have capacity limits – between 50 and 70% of parking spaces – that will be enforced at entrances and with closure of parking spaces.

- Visitors must bring face coverings, such as masks or bandanas, with them when entering state parks. Within state parks, face coverings must be worn in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as in bathhouses, park offices, concession buildings, boat docks, and trails and paths where others are present. 

- Beach-area bathrooms and bathhouses will open May 22. Most bathrooms in other state parks around the state will also open, but some will remain closed due to distancing/cleaning considerations.

- Cleaning services will be increased to multiple times per day at all open bathrooms and bathhouses.

- For surf fishing, the emergency limit on number of persons per vehicle and now only one person will need to be actively fishing. But 20-foot distancing between vehicles will be required and drive-on beaches may be closed by officers to additional vehicles when the carrying capacity to implement social distancing is not possible.

- State Park offices will open Thursday, May 21.

- Visitors are encouraged to purchase annual passes to avoid anticipated delays for daily entrance payments. Annual Passes are available online at and resume availability at park offices starting Thursday.

- Daily park entrance fees will only be collected via the automated credit card machines or self-registration envelopes provided at park entrances for those without annual passes or permits.

- Camping and pavilion reservations at all state parks have been canceled through May 31. 

The Outer Banks of North Carolina

The Outer Banks of North Carolina is now open to visitors following multiple restrictions put in place to combat the spread of the coronavirus. 

Officials said entry for visitors will began May 16 at 12:01 a.m. for the following communities: Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head and Manteo; Hatteras Island; Roanoke Island; the Dare mainland; the Currituck County Outer Banks; and Ocracoke Island.

Before traveling to the Outer Banks, visitors are being encouraged to contact their accommodations provider to confirm their reservation and arrival plans. 

North Carolina will still enforce the following guidelines to protect residents and visitors against COVID-19:

- Social distancing guidelines are still in place.

- Gatherings are limited to 10 people or less.

- Getting food from restaurants continues to be on a take-out or delivery basis.

- Businesses, including grocery stores, have limits on the number of people allowed in the store at any given time based on square footage.

- Personal care and grooming businesses and entertainment businesses without retail or dining are not open yet based on state regulations which are not determined or controlled by our local government. 


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