OCEAN ISLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) — Beaches in Brunswick County looking more sparse than usual on a hot March day.
“On a week like this when we hit 70 degrees and it’s beautiful weather you’d normally see people out in groups, but I’d say the crowds been pretty light,” Ocean Isle Beach Resident Duane Martin said.
As cases of COVID-19 continue to climb in the Cape Fear, more people are choosing to stay home.
But should they be forced off beaches?
“If Brunswick County decides that it’s safer to close the beaches for a few weeks, I’m fine with that,” another resident Nannette Martin said.
Nannette Martin and her husband, Duane, are Ocean Isle Beach residents and, like most married couples, tend to disagree on occasion.
“I think if we use some common sense and exercised a little crowd control, just like we do for our festivals, I think it’s probably a pretty healthy diversion for folks to be able to get out on the beach, get a little fresh air, get out of the house,” Duane said. “So I’d like to see them keep them open.”
But they both agree people have been practicing social distancing on the beach.
“You know, this is Spring Break. We’re seeing a lot of families together,” Nannette said. I’m not seeing people come up to other people on the beach. We’re not. So our experience has been good.”
Nannette says the virus outbreak makes her anxious, but she isn’t panicking. As a nurse practitioner, she says a little bit of anxiety can help people make smarter decisions.
“I don’t think panic does any of us any good,” she said. “I’m concerned for the vulnerable population. I have a lot of people I care deeply about at New Hanover. And I’m very worried about medical professionals, but they know what to do so I’m going to do what I can do.”
Duane says it’s nice to maintain a sense of normalcy.
“Instead of feeling like you’ve got to stay locked in your house away from everything. I think there’s a lot of mental health benefits from just getting out and being able to do some of the small things,” he said. “Even though we’re doing them differently today, it seems more like normal day to day life.”
Another couple doing more than just the small stuff.
Katie and Joe Bass tied the knot on Ocean Isle Beach Saturday afternoon.
“We’re glad they didn’t close the beaches on us and we could still come out and be able to get married,” Katie said.
Because of the coronavirus, the bride and groom had to make lots of last minute changes.
“Our guest list cut about in half. It made it a more small, intimate ceremony,
she said. “So it worked out for the better.”
Their honeymoon plans changed as well.
“We were supposed to go on a 5 day cruise once we left here, but since all the cruise lines are down we had to cancel that,” she said. “So we’re going to stay here for a little bit and maybe go somewhere for our one year anniversary.”
Although their day didn’t go as originally planned, the couple is looking up.
“I guess we’re gonna hold out at our quarantine room and eat take out,” Katie said. “And we’re definitely going to remember it.”
Nannette Martin leaves us all with a piece of advice to carry with us:
“Take this time to do what we should be doing anyway, take care of each other. Stay kind,” she said. “I have complete confidence that health care workers know what to do and I would say to do your part so they can do their part. Socially distance and wash your hands.”