The beach in Whiting, Indiana, may have been quiet on Tuesday, but officials said more than 1,000 people have crammed onto Whihala Beach's small stretch of sand in the past, informing the town's decision to close it.
“Large, large groups gathering," said Whiting resident, Nancy Legg. "It’s just not a good sight.”
Whilhala Beach is less than 20 miles from Chicago, where beaches remain closed because of coronavirus concerns.
“We have seen crowds that we haven’t seen in recent years, " said Whiting Mayor Joe Stahora. "Nobody is really paying attention to any rules when they come across the border.”
That is why Stahora made the difficult decision to close the beach and lakefront park starting on Wednesday because of virus spread concerns.
“Cutting off the parking revenue is certainly going to hurt us," Stahora said. "But at the same time I think we need to reset to try to get people to understand that this virus has not gone away.”
Residents were disappointed, but they know why the mayor made the decision.
“I understand that he’s thinking of our safety and our community and it’s just how it has to be," Legg added.
“Safety is most important, so we want to keep everyone safe," said Whiting resident Nemanja Stefanovic. "I think it’s better to close it for more time and keep everyone safe and then later we can enjoy it together.”
The bike and walking trails nearby will remain open, but the mayor said the beach may not reopen until at least mid-to-late August.