Carolina Beach town leaders considering soft reopening of beaches

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CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) — The Town of Carolina Beach is exploring options to open back up its beaches, but it likely won’t be as simple as taking down barriers previously put in place to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Town leaders say the soft opening could happen as early as next week. They want residents to be able to enjoy the beach without overcrowding.

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“One of the number one things that our citizens are asking is when is the beach going to reopen,” said Carolina Beach Mayor Leanne Pierce. “I can tell you it would be just for exercising and to be in motion. We would have to look at the parking lots and the beach accesses and maybe open one or two of the accesses and maybe one lot.”

Mayor Pierce says Carolina Beach is working with other beach towns and New Hanover County leaders to potentially open all county beaches for exercise at the same time.

Pierce says she’s proud of residents for following the rules up to this point.

“The police chief says he’s written, I think he said four tickets,” she said. “So, very pleased with our citizens for taking this seriously and being patient with us in this difficult time.”

However, not everyone is so patient.

A public Facebook group called Citizens to Reopen Carolina Beach gained more than 200 members in about a day.

The group’s creator, Bobby McConville, is calling on members to march in protest of the restrictions on Friday.

Mayor Pierce says orders closing non-essential businesses came down from the governor and county, and the town has no control over that.

“I’m a business owner as well, and I know people need to get back to work and that’s a concern,” she said. “Public health and safety is our number one concern. We’ve seen the numbers have not increased, so we’re looking at the numbers and we want to get people back open and get back to work too, so I think we’re looking at a slow, roll-out process for that.”

Mayor Pierce says town leaders are consulting with the town attorney to figure out the specifics of reopening beaches for exercise only and they expect to see results soon.

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