MENU

Gulf Shores lifeguards, restaurants prepare for social distancing during busy Memorial Day

(WPMI) Gulf Shores lifeguards, restaurants prepare for social distancing during busy Memorial Day
(WPMI) Gulf Shores lifeguards, restaurants prepare for social distancing during busy Memorial Day

Business is booming at the beaches on the day Alabama almost completely reopens, and it's just in time for one of the busiest weekends of the year.

Gulf Shores first responders and business owners are preparing for possible record-breaking holiday crowds while managing COVID-19 guidelines that are still in place.

Melvin Shepard, Battalion Chief with Gulf Shores Beach Safety, said crews are getting ready to handle even more visitors over the Memorial Day weekend.

"People were locked up in their houses for 45 days, not able to go do anything. We know they're coming. We're trying to do everything we can to prepare for that weekend and make it through the weekend safe," said Shepard.

Shepard said they've doubled the number of lifeguards on public and state park beaches, who are not only tasked with keeping people safe, but will make sure beachgoers don't break state coronavirus guidelines.

"Occasionally, you'll have a group of people that don't want to distance themselves. They don't want to have those small groups sizes," Shepard said, "And we have to contact the police and have them break the crowds up. For us, we have to maintain social distancing when we're dealing with people as well."

For restaurants like Sea N' Suds, managing those guidelines with huge crowds is a challenge while operating at half capacity.

"We open at 11 o'clock and we're instantly on 30 minute, 45 minute, or an hour wait," said Miller.

Miller said meeting the demand while also making sure customers socially distance is a constant work in progress.

"I'm glad everything is opening back up, I really am. I'm sure it's great for the economy. I just hope it's not too much too fast," Miller said.

Tourism officials tell NBC 15 that rental occupancy is already 90% full. That's up 30% from last year.

Authorities are encouraging everyone headed to the beach to be patient and to follow social distancing guidelines.

For the latest COVID-19 coverage, click here.