PACIFIC COUNTY - Beach approaches may reopen as early as May 18, depending on what elected officials and Pacific County’s Public Health Officer decide this week.
Local and county elected officials met for a Pacific County Emergency Management Agency Council Meeting on Wednesday, May 13 to discuss when to reopen county and city beach approaches.
The rough draft of the county’s plan showed beach approaches reopening on Tuesdays and Wednesdays beginning after May 18. However, with the Ocean Shores City Council having voted to open its beach approaches on Monday, May 12, there was some discussion of opening sooner in Pacific County. Also raised was the possibility of opening on only weekdays, rather than opening fully on May 18.
Both Long Beach Mayor Jerry Phillips and the three Pacific County Board of Commissioners said there was value to reopening beach approaches at the same time as neighboring counties. Pacific County Commissioner Lisa Olsen said she anticipated Grays Harbor would reopen its beach approaches later in the afternoon.
“If our friends to the North are going to open up their beach approaches we might as well open up ours,” said Commissioner Mike Runyon.
If all the beaches open together there is a choice of where to go, rather than forcing everyone to one area, Phillips said.
Pacific County Board of Commissioners Chairman Frank Wolfe didn’t voice a strong opinion for or against opening beach approaches. But, having all beach communities sending one message about reopening would prevent tourists from being confused, he said.
Closing the beach approaches did seem to help reduce people traveling to the area at first, Wolfe said. But as the weather improves, he expects more visitors to come regardless of the closures. The beaches give people a place to go and spread out, Wolfe said.
“Other than building barricades on 101, I don’t know how we could keep people out if we wanted to, and quite honestly those people are our life’s blood here and we really don’t want to have them stay away,” Wolfe said.
Though emphasizing social distancing should be a top priority, Wolfe said.
A final decision was not reached during the meeting.