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NC Beach Towns Adjust Restrictions

The Atlantic Beach Bridge connects Morehead City to Bogue Banks at the east end of the island. Photo: Mark Hibbs

North Carolina beach towns are adjusting restrictions put in place in response to COVID-19.

Emerald Isle, to align with Gov. Roy Cooper’s stay-at-home order that he extended on Friday from April 30 to May 8, extended Monday its mandatory restriction on short-term rentals through 11:59 p.m. May 8. This prohibits rental of a hotel room, motel room, rental housing unit, condominium, RV campsite, primitive campsite or similar accommodation.

Starting May 9, property owners and managers can accept occupants, and contracts on file for April 30 -May 8 may be honored at the discretion of the property owner or manager. Both the Third Street and Station Street parking lots will open to the public on May 9.

The Western Ocean Regional Access and Eastern Ocean Regional Access will remain closed until construction is complete and it is deemed safe to open the public restroom facilities.

Emerald Isle residents and property owners can access the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Bogue Sound for swimming, surfing, kiting, kayaking, fishing and boating. Residents can walk, jog and sit on the beach strand but must adhere to the current social distancing guidelines.

While the town’s administration building and police department have limited public access, the community center and all parks & recreation maintained-facilities will remain closed to the public until further notice.

Pine Knoll Shores and Indian Beach extended short-term rental restrictions to May 8 to reflect Gov. Cooper’s stay-at-home order and will remain in effect until rescinded.

Atlantic Beach officials announced Tuesday that starting Thursday the town is lifting the voluntary self-quarantine and ban on travel from outside of Carteret County to Atlantic Beach for recreation. Also on Thursday, the town will open public beach accesses. There will be limited parking available on New Bern Avenue, Henderson Boulevard and on the street at the circle, though public parking lots there will be closed as well as all public bathrooms.

Starting May 8, the ban on short-term hotel and motel rentals will be lifted and rentals previously booked between April 30-May 8 will be allowed. All public parking lots and beach access public restrooms will open on May 15 and paid parking is to begin at public spaces as well as lifeguard services. New Bern Avenue and Henderson Boulevard public spaces will fully open. The town plans to open on May 22 town park, mini golf and splash pad.

Carteret County officials reopened Monday the county-maintained beach accesses in Salter Path, Radio Island and Harkers Island.

New Hanover County Chair Julia Olson-Boseman announced Monday that she would not be extending the county’s additional mitigation measures put in place in response to COVID-19 and will allow those to expire at 5 p.m. Wednesday. This step is to put the county directly in line with the governor’s stay-at-home order extension.

Starting at 5 p.m. Wednesday, businesses, including restaurants, can operate in line with the governor’s order and public gardens, basketball and volleyball courts will open but restrooms at these facilities remain closed. The grounds of Airlie Gardens and the Arboretum will be open to the public and the county’s landfill, household hazardous waste facility, and HazWagon. County public libraries and Cape Fear Museum will remain closed.

By letting these additional measures expire, all three New Hanover County beach towns no longer are restricted by the county.

Kure Beach opened up at noon Monday all access points and beaches for individuals to walk, jog, bike or participate in water sports. Sunbathing, sitting, fishing, games, and all other activities as well as beach equipment such as towels, blankets, chairs, tents, coolers and umbrellas will not be allowed on the beaches at this time.

Carolina Beach officials extended short-term rental restrictions through 5 p.m. May 8. Officials also amended the town’s March 24 state of emergency for the municipal beach strand to be opened on Monday for recreation only. All public parking lots and restrooms will remain closed. Freeman Park will remain closed to vehicular traffic. All restrictions will remain in place until they are rescinded or continued.

Wrightsville Beach opened on April 20 ocean and sound side beach access points and beaches for individual, nonstationary exercise activities to include only walking, jogging, swimming and surfing/water sports.

Ocean Isle Beach starting Thursday will lift short-term rental restrictions and public parking will reopen. The beach strand will be open to the public for exercise and recreational activity, the town announced Tuesday, with a few restrictions including that group should be 10 or less.

Oak Island as of Friday opened all access points and beaches for individual, nonstationary exercise activities but all public parking at beach accesses and parking lots and parking within town rights-of-way is prohibited, all town parks and recreational facilities, public boat ramps, kayak launches and associated public parking areas, remain closed as well as all public street end parking areas, docks, piers and public accesses and all associated public parking areas.

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Staff Report

The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.