Thursday, August 18, 2022

Cape Fear area beaches reopen in time for Memorial Day, some restrictions still in place

Property owners at Freeman Park are claiming the town has failed to protect their land and are asking for a Jury Trial to halt all unauthorized activities of their land (Port City Daily/Courtesy Carolina Beach)
As beach towns prepare for Memorial Day Weekend restrictions continue to be loosened. (Port City Daily/Courtesy Carolina Beach)

SOUTHEAST N.C. — Beachgoers can rejoice as towns across the region continue to reduce restrictions preventing beach access, regulations initially put in place with the hopes of slowing the spread of Covid-19.

Not only were beaches closed to the public, but restrictions on public parking, as well as short-term rentals, brought local tourism to a grinding halt.

With Memorial Day often referred to as the unofficial start to summer, it typically marks the start of the busy season for beach towns, and although public officials have voiced lingering concerns of the virus overwhelming hospitals, towns are slowly, but surely, allowing beach access again.

Most towns have lifted many of their restrictions, but it is not yet business as usual.

Wrightsville Beach

The Town of Wrightsville Beach was one of the first beach towns in the Cape Fear region to take action and close the beaches to visitors. It is also one of the last to announce it would be reducing the restrictions previously put in place.

The following restrictions and lifting of them are in effect, as of May 20, 5 p.m.

  • All Short-term Rental Restrictions are hereby lifted.
  • Beaches are now open for all activities, such as sunbathing, fishing, games, etc., that are not otherwise regulated by the Wrightsville Beach Town Code.
  • The following parking lots are open. Parking enforcement will be active in these lots. (A map of the location of these parking lots is available on the homepage of the Town of Wrightsville Beach’s website at www.townofwrightsvillebeach.com).
  • Beach Access #2                       30 spaces
  • Beach Access #3                       30 spaces
  • Beach Access #4                       97 spaces
  • Beach Access #8                       61 spaces
  • Beach Access #29                     26 spaces
  • Beach Access #36                     85 spaces
  • All public on-street parking spaces are closed to the public. This includes all on-street parking spaces that are not obstructed by cones, barricades, or that do not have “no parking bags” on the meters. There is some limited off-street parking available near businesses on Lumina Avenue from Columbia Street to Latimer Street and from Access #36 to Sunset Avenue. Paid parking will be enforced in these areas.
  • East and West Salisbury Street Parking is closed to the public. All Ocean Accesses located on East Salisbury Street are closed. All Town-owned restrooms located on East Salisbury Street are closed.
  • Town of Wrightsville Beach residents, with a current parking hang tag or tax decal, will be permitted to utilize public on-street parking, only if they have no access to parking on their private property.
  • Onsite Restaurant Dining. The Town of Wrightsville Beach anticipates Governor Cooper will issue an Executive Order modifying the present prohibition of onsite restaurant dining. Subject to the issuance of such an Order by the Governor in the future, the Town of Wrightsville Beach hereby informs restaurant owners of the Town’s intention to implement the following guidelines for future restaurant operations so as to allow restaurant owners to prepare to reopen for limited onsite outdoor dining: 

Carolina Beach

Restrictions in Carolina Beach were reduced last week and it didn’t take long for crowds to pack the tiny beach town. In fact, Freeman Park had to close early due to overcrowding concerns.

According to the town of Carolina Beach, “As visitors prepare for vacation, it is important to remember that the Coronavirus is not over. There are still State restrictions in effect to protect everyone’s safety that may impact the way you have vacationed in Carolina Beach in the past, including:  

  • 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 as well as entertainment venues without retail or dining are not open yet based on state regulations which are not determined or controlled by our local government.”

Parking restrictions and other previously stated restrictions on beach activiites have been lifted in Carolina Beach.

Kure Beach

Kure Beach restrictions have been similar to the other beach towns in the county, and while some of them are slowly being lifted, the town has not completely removed restrictions.

“As the Town moves into the busy season, it is important that visitors are aware of the limitations and issues that continue to occur in the local area. While it would be logical to assume that at this point everyone is aware of the COVID-19 situation, please take the time to remind our visitors that there are changes in our Town just as there have seen changes in their home towns. It continues to be critical at the personal level to protect yourself and your loved ones and to make good risk decisions for your family. The choices you and those you associate with have more to do with whether COVID-19 impacts you and your family than any governmental order,” Emergency Manager David Heglar said.

The following is the latest information regarding restrictions in Kure Beach.

  • The ban on Short Term Rentals is lifted.
  • Parking restrictions on K ave, with the exception of marked spaces for curbside pickup, and restrictions on Atlantic Ave. are discontinued.
  • Public Beach access parking will be opened at 50% capacity. Overnight parking at Public Beach accesses is not allowed and ticketing will be strictly enforced.
  • Public parking West of Fort Fisher Blvd. will continue to be restricted. Parking is limited to MARKED Parking Spaces and the Town continues to employ a contract agency to ticket illegal parking.
  • The Public Bathrooms on Atlantic Avenue will be open with increased disinfecting based on CDC and Public Health recommendations. Any person who exhibits signs of the COVID-19 illness should not be in public (per Public Health and the Governor’s guidance) and SHOULD NOT use public restroom facilities to protect Public Health.

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