Governor Northam’s surprise announcement to open all beaches puts Cape Charles on track to reopen on June 5th.
While the public beaches may reopen, the state remains in Phase 1 of the state’s three-part reopening plan for at least another week. Northam cited a lack of data on how the spread of the virus has been affected by two weeks of those first steps toward reopening, which include allowing houses of worship to reopen with limited attendance, letting people dine outside at restaurants and expanding permitted crowds at some retail shops from 10 people to 50% capacity.
The sign of a competent government is being prepared for things before they happen. Once again Cape Charles was not prepared for the governor’s decision to reopen – Tom Strzepek
To open, localities must meet the list of safety protocols. Since Cape Charles needed more time to meet all the safety requirements, the Town Council decided to set a beach reopening date of June 5 to allow the town manager and staff one week to develop the necessary safety protocols.
There are items A through Q that the town needs to comply with. The estimate by the Town Manager was a cost of “tens of thousands” to comply.
a. Require beachgoers to practice physical distancing of at least six feet between each person unless they are with members of the same household.
b. Prohibit gatherings of more than 10 people.
c. Prohibit group sports, alcohol, tents, groupings of umbrellas, and other
activities and items that attract gatherings.
d. Prohibit entertainment and programming that generate gatherings.
e. All common areas that encourage gatherings, such as pavilions, gazebos,
playsets and picnic areas must remain closed. This does not apply to fishing
f. Implement a cleaning schedule for all high-touch surfaces made of plastic or metal such as benches and railings that includes cleaning at least every two hours between the hours of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.
g. Establish, train, and deploy a team to educate and promote compliance with beach rules and refer cases of noncompliance to public safety personnel, if appropriate.
h. Establish procedures for temporary beach closure or access limitations in the event of overcrowding.
i. Ensure adequate personal protective equipment for all lifeguards.
j. Perform a disinfectant-level cleaning of all public restrooms every two hours with an EPA-approved disinfectant by staff or volunteers trained to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on cleaning and disinfecting.
k. For chair and umbrella rental companies, require vendors to set up chairs and umbrellas for customers, maintaining at least six feet of distance between groups, and to clean equipment between rentals following Environmental Protection Agency and CDC guidelines on cleaning and disinfecting.
l. Post signage at all public access points to the beaches and other “cluster
prone” areas providing health reminders regarding physical distancing,
gathering prohibitions, options for high risk individuals, and staying home if sick. Messaging must be specific to a location.
m. Locality shall provide daily metrics to its local health department to include beach closures, complaint incidents, police reports of violence related to enforcement, and the number of reports of noncompliance to be submitted each Monday.
n. All employees and contract workers must wear a cloth face covering when not able to practice physical distancing following the CDC Use of Face Cloth Coverings guidance.
o. Employees and contract workers must have access to soap and water or hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol, and locality should provide best
hygiene practices to employees on a regular basis, including washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and practicing respiratory etiquette protocols.
p. Locality shall require all employees and contract workers to take their
temperature before reporting to work and direct such employees not to
report to work if they have a fever of over 100.4 degrees, have experienced
chills, or have been feverish in the last 72 hours.
q. Follow enhanced workplace safety best practices outlined in the Virginia Safer At Home Guidelines for All Business Sectors.
Local citizens have begun to question the legitimacy of the Town, and that the Mayor and Town Council have once again been caught with their pants down.
“Town council members were unprepared for the meeting, most did not have access to this revised order. I read it this afternoon, and the amended section takes all of 2 minutes to read and fully comprehend. But really, how does the town manager come up with the “tens of thousands” for compliance” – Gordan Campbell
Local resident Gordan Campbell provided a clear analysis of what it would take to really open the beach:
A-D. A sign can satisfy this. In fact the town already made these signs
E. Already closed, nothing further needed.
F. Not applicable, I don’t think there are any plastic or metal surfaces at the beachfront.
G. Two employees or volunteers could be trained in about 30 minutes.
H. Again about 30 minutes to come up with a plan.
I. N/A we don’t have lifeguards.
J. N/A Keep restrooms at beach closed solves this item.
L. Posting signs: they did this last week, no problem
M. PIA but probably 0 incidents will need to be reported.
N. Being done already
O. Give the two volunteers/employees some hand sanitizer.
P. Easily accomplished
Q. Easily accomplished