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'Now is not the time' | Ocean City beach, boardwalk closes amid coronavirus concerns

Both the beach and boardwalk will stay closed until April 15 and will be re-evaluated depending on the status of the pandemic, officials say.

OCEAN CITY, Md. — Maryland's popular beach town Ocean City closed its beach and boardwalk at 5 p.m. Sunday to encourage visitors to stay home in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Gov. Hogan issued an executive order on Monday to close all non-essential businesses in Maryland because some residents were not taking social distancing seriously.

Both the beach and boardwalk will stay closed until April 15 and will be re-evaluated depending on the status of the pandemic, according to CBS affiliate WJZ. 

“The number one priority of the Mayor and City Council is to protect our citizens and employees,” Mayor Rick Meehan said. “We are facing an invisible threat and we are the carriers of this potentially deadly virus. At this time, we continue to request that visitors postpone traveling to Ocean City and that our non-resident property owners reframe from traveling to Ocean City as well. The safest place for everyone right now is in their own home.”

Officials said that restaurants on the boardwalk, however, can stay open for carry-out service only.

Only residents who reside within the corporate limits of the Town of Ocean will be allowed to walk their dogs or exercise on the beach or Boardwalk in groups of no more than two adults and children at any time, officials said.

Want to hear the sound of beach waves but can't go to Ocean City? Here's a live look at the beach cameras provided by Ocean City, Maryland.

RELATED: Here are details on every case of coronavirus in the DMV

Social distancing will remain a requirement.

“We are doing everything in our power to protect the health and safety of our citizens, but everyone has a critical role to play,” Mayor Meehan said. “We all have to work together to do whatever we can to mount our only known defense against this common enemy and that is to practice extreme measures of social distancing. We are taking these drastic steps to shorten the duration of this health crisis. If every single person steps up and does their part by making sacrifices now it will slow the spread of this virus and help us flatten the curve.”

On March 21, Maryland confirmed its third coronavirus death in the state, a woman in her 40s from Montgomery County who suffered from underlying medical conditions. 

The death comes less than 24-hour after the second coronavirus death in the state was announced.

RELATED: Maryland coronavirus updates: 3 coronavirus deaths reported, infant and teen test positive

"A second Marylander has lost his life as a result of the coronavirus pandemic," Gov. Larry Hogan said. "On behalf of our entire state, we send our heartfelt condolences to his family and to all those who loved him. As the number of positive cases in Maryland continues to dramatically rise, we need everyone to take this seriously. This is a public health crisis like nothing we have ever faced before—we are all in this together, and we will get through this together." 

The state's first death was also a man in his 60s, who had no known travel history and may have contracted the virus through community transmission, Hogan said. The Prince George's County resident also died after suffering from an underlying medical condition. 

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