Protesters at NC coast demand island reopen beaches

North Carolina news

SUNSET BEACH, N.C. (WECT) – Beaches throughout the Cape Fear region have started to reopen with restrictions, but one is lagging behind.

Sunset Beach is still closed to the public and Saturday dozens of residents gathered to voice their frustrations.

Dozens of people protesting to reopen the beach accesses in Sunset Beach.

“We all as Americans did what we had to do in the beginning and now this is six weeks of this, it’s time for it to end,” said Becky Kaplan, owner of the pier.

At the moment, there aren’t any coronavirus cases in the 28468-zip code area, per the state’s health department. Residents believe that’s a strong case for reopening.

A woman protesting the beaches being closed at Sunset Beach on Saturday. WECT photo

“I think we’re moving out of the emergency phase. We need to move into our living our life phase and working again, it’s time for that,” said Ginny Quaglia, protest organizer. “We’re passionate about our beach opening because we moved here or live here because we love that beach and we love the lifestyle especially now when we’ve been cooped up for so long.”

Even a random passerby unaffiliated with the group stopped to give her opinion.

“These people live on these beaches, they pay their insurance, they pay everything. Why can’t we walk on the beach. Why can’t we surf on a beach if we don’t lay close together,” the passerby said. “Why can’t we do that? I think people have come together, stayed in their house, did what they were supposed to and it’s time to open up somehow or another.”

The group feels their constitutional rights are being taken away from them and says they are urging town leaders to reopen the beaches. They say, its why they moved there, it’s what they pay taxes for and it’s their right.

“The constitution is not to be suspended in a time of crisis and we feel like it has been.” said Quaglia.

The next Sunset Beach Town Council meeting is on Monday, meaning they will have the option to discuss the beach reopening and vote on it.

Last meeting there were 18 residents to speak in favor of the beach opening and three in favor of it staying closed. The protesters Saturday hope that Monday brings a new outcome.

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