If your dreams of the perfect weekend include sand, surf and boardwalk fries capped off with an overnight stay, you’re not alone.
Ocean City, Maryland’s hotels, motels, vacation rentals and other lodging establishments are open and allowed to welcome guests for the first time since COVID-19 restrictions went into effect. And based on bookings, lot of people are wasting no time in resuming their vacation plans.
“We’ve already been getting quite a bit of calls for Memorial Day weekend and the first couple of weeks in June,” says Gail Crosby, general manager for Resort Rentals, an Ocean City-based vacation rental provider.
Short-term lodging businesses were banned from renting to any person not deemed essential by the town in response to the pandemic crisis.
“Bookings screeched to a halt starting March 16, and calls immediately turned to requests for cancellations,” Crosby says. “We had a lot of calls from people asking what if questions. They wanted to know what would happen if there was still a stay-at-home order when their vacation time came; what if the beach and boardwalk are closed during then and what if they simply don’t feel safe coming down.”
The boardwalk and beach reopened May 9 and has seen a steady flow of people. Ocean City has repealed the order that required any Marylander or visitor to the state who had traveled to or from New York, New Jersey or Connecticut to self-quarantine for 14 days, but other restrictions remain in place.
“People are asking what will be open when they visit,” Crosby says. “They are asking about pools, restaurants and amusements.”
Retail establishments are opening at 50% capacity and restaurants are offering carry-out and delivery only. Social gatherings of more than 10 people are still not permitted. b And lounging by the pool? There has yet to be a decision announced about whether pools may begin operating.
Stores may be open, but Crosby and her staff remind guests to come well-stocked for this vacation.
“We are encouraging people to bring their own bedding, as well as toilet paper, paper towels and cleaning supplies,” Crosby says.
Parts of Assateague Island National Seashore also reopened this week, and Virginia Beach may reopen its beaches for lounging starting this Friday. All beaches in Virginia are currently open only for exercise, not “passive recreation” like laying on the beach.