Ocean City decision-makers are clearly struggling with consistency when it comes to making calls on special events and pandemic safety reasoning. It’s understandable because there these are complicated decisions.
A case-by-case approach is best to adopt when navigating this maze of uncertainty amid important decisions on whether to hold special events and offer services when safety cannot be ensured.
Risk is inevitable in today’s world. There’s a threat of contracting COVID-19 in all aspects of life, but through the stated protocol – social distancing, facial coverings and enhanced sanitizing – we are told the risk is diminished. The science should guide us, but common sense also plays a part of it as well for government officials.
Over the past several months, town officials have canceled the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in March and Springfest in May (and many events in between like Cruisin) and grounded the Boardwalk Tram operation and the Fourth of July fireworks. Bike Week and OC BikeFest organizers, in coordination with city officials, dropped their plans for September last week and will focus on 2021. The White Marlin Open is ongoing but without any public viewing at the weigh station.
This week two matters came before the council that again put officials in the crosshairs of public scrutiny.
First the council saved the OC Air Show by providing $100,000 to the organizer to offset losses from the state shutting down the ticketed areas. The gathering area should have never been planned because it violates the governor’s executive order on crowds. It goes against everything in the protocols about groups gathering.
Secondly is the call on whether to hold Sunfest the first week in October. If it was unsafe in May for Springfest, it would stand to reason early October is probably not the time for Sunfest either. The council will decide its status next week.
Ocean City needs to consistently err on the side of caution. It has in some instances but not in others. If crowds gathering for the holiday fireworks was deemed too risky, it’s confusing why the air show is even allowed in the first place. By its nature, it encourages people crowding together on the beach around the prime viewing area.
We love and support the air show and Sunfest each year, but 2020 is not the year for either. They each attract to relatively small areas big crowds, which is exactly what should not be condoned at this time.