GULF SHORES, Ala. (WSFA) -- Alabama’s beaches are one of the state’s top tourist attractions. When Gov. Kay Ivey issued her stay at home order, beaches were off limits.
They have since reopened, and crowds of people are returning.
“It’s wonderful to have people back in town," said Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft.
Hotel occupancy is expected to be close to 100 percent for Memorial Day weekend.
With increasing crowds comes a bigger challenge to maintain social distancing. Both Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are policing the shoreline and encouraging beachgoers to be responsible.
“Be respectful, be real conscious. Our goal is to keep your families as safe as we can when they come down," said Ken Grimes, Orange Beach city administrator.
Mayor Craft added "what I really don’t want to do is for us to be a problem that forces the governor to re-look at some of her open beaches.”
Restaurants are also packed. Oyster House General Manager Bud Morris says business is better now than it was this same time last year.
“We are exceeding the numbers that we did last year at this time,” Morris said.
Restaurants are taking steps to protect customers. Employees are wearing masks and many restaurants are using disposable menus.
Hotels are also taking steps to protect guests. Some have lowered occupancy and are requiring guests to make reservations at the swimming pool to limit the number of people in the pool at one time.
Herb Malone, President or Gulf Shores Orange Beach Tourism says the resurgence has been good for the economy and the spirits of residents and visitors alike.
“Nothing hurts any of us more than having something taken away from us and what has been taken away, you want it back. I think that is the reason so many people came. We went, I think, six weeks or so without the beaches. Literally, the parking lots were empty. It was very desolate feeling to have, and once they said our beaches are open, they were here - good for business, good for morale, just good for a lot of things.”
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