July 2, 2020

​Have a Happy and Safe Fourth of July Weekend; Plan Ahead to Navigate Traffic, Adhere to Health Guidelines

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (July 2, 2020) — Even without the annual fireworks displays, we anticipate tens of thousands of people will visit the Oceanfront during the holiday weekend. To facilitate traffic, maintain access for emergency vehicles and accommodate the larger-than-normal crowds, traffic entering the Resort Area on I-264 eastbound may be diverted at Parks Avenue, as needed. When this occurs, vehicles will be redirected westbound on I-264. People should plan for these diversions to occur anytime between 8 p.m. on Friday, July 3 and 1 a.m. on Sunday, July 5.When traffic is diverted, the eastbound exit for South Birdneck Road and the westbound exit for First Colonial Road may be closed. Other routes into the Resort Area will remain open: General Booth Boulevard, Virginia Beach Boulevard, Laskin Road and Shore Drive.The City has partnered with WAZE to provide real-time traffic updates. Download the WAZE app for free from Google Play or the Apple Store. Consider avoiding the traffic and be safer at home. "If you opt to take advantage of the nice weather, please adhere to Phase III guidelines and remember, we are still in the midst of a pandemic," said Mayor Robert M. "Bobby" Dyer. "We want to avoid the major increases in cases other states are seeing. Reopening is so important and yet, it is also a fragile situation, so we urge everyone to adhere to the guidelines. We all have a hand in keeping ourselves and others safe." Executive Order 63 currently requires Virginians to wear face coverings in public indoor settings and other areas where maintaining physical distancing is not possible. Virginia Beach health officials are reporting an increase in the number of positive tests for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 among residents younger than 30 years old. Since the last week in May 2020, COVID-19 cases among people younger than 20 have increased by 240% and cases in ages 20 to 29 have increased nearly 250%."The increase in COVID-19 cases among young adults and teenagers is due in large part to participating in activities that involve large gatherings of people and not wearing a face covering," said Norfolk/Virginia Beach Health Director Dr. Demetria Lindsay. "We have recent reports of exposures at local bars, family celebrations, and while socializing with friends. We all have to take responsibility for the protection of ourselves and others. Please wear a face covering when out in public and stay six feet or more from others. Avoid close contact even among non-household family and friends." Businesses hosting crowds, such as bars and restaurants, are reminded to follow the Governor's Executive Orders and the associated guidelines for safe operations.Do not be a victim of COVID fatigue. If you travel, plan your trip to minimize the risk of exposure and illness. Guidelines for protecting yourself and others from COVID-19 are online at https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/prevention-tips/.Parents, young adults and teens are encouraged to remain vigilant in taking the following precautions:• Avoid large gatherings of people and sharing living spaces with people outside your immediate household. • Practice social distancing: stay 6 feet apart from others whenever possible.• Wear a face covering over the nose and mouth while in public, particularly indoors.• Wash hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds; use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol when soap and water are not available.• Stay home when sick, except when seeking medical care.• Avoid close contact with people who are sick, including in your home.• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.• Clean and disinfect touched surfaces frequently. • Cover coughs and sneezes when not wearing a face covering.Anyone who has been in a large gathering or other setting where social distancing and face covering were not being practiced should contact their healthcare provider or seek testing, say health officials. This is especially urged for persons who become symptomatic. "There is no safe place — there is only safe behavior," Dr. Lindsay said.Another area where safety is a concern is fireworks, which are illegal and dangerous. Additionally, the loud noises of fireworks can frighten both people — especially children — and pets, while also disrupting sleep.With the Oceanfront and Mount Trashmore fireworks shows canceled this year due to COVID-19, we are concerned about the holiday weekend, especially the dangers posed by consumer fireworks and sparklers, which are illegal to use without a permit. Possession or use of consumer fireworks in Virginia Beach is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine. The law is not designed to spoil fun or holiday celebration — it is intended to protect life and property. Cities throughout the country are reporting notable increases in fireworks complaints. From May 23 to June 24 last year, dispatchers recorded 71 calls from people reporting fireworks going off in their neighborhoods. For that same month-long period this year, dispatchers received 250 complaints of fireworks being discharged in their neighborhoods. We encourage all of our residents to be considerate neighbors. For the latest information, please visit emergency.vbgov.com/coronavirus and follow us on facebook.com/CityofVaBeach, twitter.com/CityofVaBeach and instagram.com/cityofvabeach. For more public health information, visit https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/ and www.cdc.gov/coronavirus. # # #

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