Dare County began allowing non-resident property owners on a staggered basis to return Monday after being banned from entering for more than a month due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and some were greeted by signs and waves welcoming them back.
Doug Brindley, owner of Brindley Beach Vacations, Lee Nettles executive director of the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, and John Harris, owner of Kitty Hawk Kites, were among a group of about 30 people who lined U.S. 158 in Kitty Hawk just east of the Dare County Sheriff’s Office checkpoint around 9 a.m.
But the larger-than-expected crowd that included employees of Kitty Hawk Kites and Ocean Atlantic Rentals wasn’t there long, as town regulations require a permit for a gathering of more than five people.
They were told to disperse by police a short time later, and reminded that only five people or less could stand outside the state right-of-way and not than along the shoulder of U.S. 158.
No one opposing the lifting of restrictions could be seen near the checkpoint at the foot of the Wright Memorial Bridge, despite threats of protests and possible civil disobedience that have been made on the internet.
The unofficial welcoming committee had their greetings returned with waves and honking horns, not only from those with out-of-state plates, but several locals as well.
Brindley, Harris and others have been among those asking the Dare County Control Group for restrictions to be relaxed on the entry of non-resident property owners that were set on March 20, and visitors on March 17.
Currituck County allowed non-resident property owners to return starting on April 22, while Dare County began lifting the ban today for those with a last name starting with A-to-I. J-to-R last names will be allowed starting Wednesday, and S-to-Z on Friday.
Hyde County has said all NRPOs are welcome to return to Ocracoke starting May 11, and the Ocracoke Control Group voted Friday to reopen to visitors before Memorial Day weekend.
There has been no firm date set for when visitors will be allowed to return to the Outer Banks, but all three counties have agreed to cooperate on when that can begin.
North Carolina’s stay-at-home order is set to expire this Friday, while Dare County’s is currently set to end on May 22.
A half-page advertisement appeared in the Raleigh News and Observer on Sunday, claiming to represent 3,500 members of a Facebook group and website known as Outer Banks COVID-19 Discussion, asking for Governor Roy Cooper to block Dare County’s plans to reopen today.
This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.