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Beach towns weigh varied issues as they plan to reopen

Delaware Public Media

Delaware's beach towns are trying to get a feel for how to navigate reopening their biggest draw.  

For now, Lewes and Dewey Beach are limiting beach activity to exercising and dog walking, in line with Gov. Carney’s emergency order. 

It’s been that way in Lewes for weeks and City Manager Ann Marie Townshend says it’s worked despite a few minor incidents.

But, she notes traffic is increasing as some owners of second homes return to check on their property.

“I know last weekend we got a lot of calls about people who are coming in from out-of-state to their second home.  So, people are coming," Townshend said. "And then, there are other second homeowners who are not coming, but are saying when can I come?” 

And for Lewes businesses Townshend says ramping back up is about trying strike the proper balance.

“I think the business community wants to get going again," Townshend said. "But, they are also very aware of wanting to do it right.  Not expose their own employees, themselves and their families or the customers to unnecessary risks.”

Townshend added that concern is heightened by having a more vulnerable population.  The median age in Lewes is 65 years-old, accordind to Townshend.

Dewey Beach just started allowing people on the beach to exercise and walk dogs last weekend after completely closing its beaches. Town Manager Scott Koenig says he was pleased with the response to that first step toward reopening. 

“People were very conscious of the fact we’re not encouraging for people to sunbathe or kind of hangout on the sand for any period of time.  We want to them to keep moving in accordance to the Governor’s declaration,” Koenig said.

Dewey Beach Town Manager Scott Koenig discusses some of the pressure towns like Dewey Beach face as they prepare to reopen.

And Koenig says crowd management is a concern as they approach Memorial Day weekend.  

“As the weather is getting warmer and you get more people there, the tendency will be to push those limits that are currently out there.  But, hopefully, as we get closer to it to getting warmer, some of the guidance from the state may change,” Koenig said.

Both city managers say businesses are eager to reopen realizing they have a limited time to generate to make revenue.  Their bigggest concern is law enforcement due to small staffs.

Dewey Beach Town Manager Scott Koenig outlines the issues Dewey Beach is working through as it prepares to reopen.

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