OCEAN CITY, Md. (WJZ) — The line for Thrasher’s French Fries near the Inlet stretched around the store as, more than 50 people waited outside the Ocean City mainstay on the first day Maryland’s resort town opened its beach and boardwalk since the coronavirus pandemic began.

There were signs asking customers to socially distance themselves.

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While police were on patrol, there was no locals-only mandate—even though Maryland remains under a stay-at-home order.

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“We just decided to take a day trip,” said Karen Williams from the Baltimore area. “It gives you a chance to get out and get fresh air.”

She spoke to WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren from the parking lot at the Inlet, which also reopened Saturday.

“I think it’s more crowded than I thought it would be,” she said. “We can see more and more vehicles coming in.”

Hundreds enjoyed the sunny, albeit chilly day, while signs warned them to stay six feet apart and proceed at their own risk.

Ocean City painted these warnings on ramps leading to the beach. Photo: WJZ/Mike Hellgren

Nathan Todd manages Backshore Brewing Company near 10th Street along the boardwalk.

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“It’s the first day of the new season,” he said. “We opened at noon and by 11:40 a.m. we had a line of customers. People were socially distanced.”

Todd is worried about the future and is willing to do what he can to stay afloat.

“We want the staff to be safe. We want the people to be safe. So we will follow whatever guidelines we need to,” Todd said.

Many families are just happy to be able to come down to the ocean and hope reopening now turns out to be the right decision.

“Traditionally, we come here with our mother for Mother’s Day,” said Rosalynn Baker from Dorchester County. “She loves her Thrasher’s Fries. Normally, she’d be all down the boardwalk in her motorized power chair.”

Today, she stayed in their vehicle.

Baker believes Ocean City’s mayor made the right decision to reopen “but I think masks should be required,” she added.

They are only suggested by Ocean City officials.

“I see it like this. You’ve got to start somewhere,” said her brother Timothy Roberts. He carried ice cream from Dumser’s Dairyland to their mom—another family tradition. “This is a soft opening.”

Ocean City’s hotels and other short-term lodging remain closed to all but essential workers until at least May 22nd. As in the rest of Maryland, restaurants are carry-out or delivery only.

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.