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Good Memorial Day weekend beach attendance despite weather, local officials say

Karl Malgiero
Delaware Public Media

Local officials say things are picking up at Delaware beaches with the easing of COVID restrictions. 

The Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce says many of the larger hotels near the beach communities were full over Memorial Day weekend—despite raindrops. 

“Overall it was a high visitation weekend. The weather was the only obstacle in our way really, keeping it from being a record breaker, I’d say,” said the Chamber’s President and CEO Carol Everhart, noting some early departures from hotels, she presumes are due to weather. 

The jump in beach attendance is part of a trend. Weekend occupancy levels so far this year have all been in the thousands, whereas this time last year during COVID lockdowns total occupancy over an entire weekend was at times less than 100. 

Last year mask wearing was required on boardwalks and beaches in Delaware.

Everhart attributes the boom in beach visits to the easing of restrictions and availability of COVID vaccine, but she adds the challenge this year is finding hospitality workers to fill vacancies left by last year’s lockdowns. 

“The difference is last year they didn’t have the customers, as you can see by the occupancy numbers. This year we have the customers; we need more employees. So they’re still adapting to these needs and challenges,” she said.  

The leisure and hospitality industry has seen a more than 17 percent rebound in employment since last year’s lockdowns, but the Delaware Restaurant Association says it’s still difficult to find workers.

Despite the shortage, Everhart says she’s expecting a “wonderful” summer for visitation at Delaware beaches.

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