Westport halts tourism by blocking beach roads, closing hotels

VIDEO: Crowds flock to coast this weekend, ignoring coronavirus warnings

WESTPORT, Wash. — Westport city leaders approved an emergency resolution, closing hotels, vacation rentals and roads that lead to beaches after tons of out of towners headed to the coast during the coronavirus pandemic.

Pictures posted all over social media show cars covering beaches and lining roads along the coast.

"It was very, very, very busy and very packed,” said Victoria Baughman.

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People who live in places, like Westport, were shocked to see so many tourists traveling to their communities in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Local people were very upset about it because people were supposed to be staying home, not having a vacation right now, they should be taking it very serious and a lot of people aren't,” said Debbie Anderson, Twin Harbor Drug employee.

Videos show cars packing Westhaven State Park on Saturday. Many said it felt similar to a summer weekend at the coast.

Travelers also stopped by local stores, like Twin Harbor Drug, and tried to stock up on essentials.

"They're looking everywhere for hand sanitizer, toilet paper, it's just, it's crazy,” said Anderson.

Workers were able to restock some toilet paper Monday morning, but it could be weeks before they have enough hand sanitizer and vitamin supplements to fill pharmacy shelves.

"They were going to the grocery store, they were buying it out,” said Baughman.

It got so bad, Westport city leaders passed an emergency resolution immediately closing all vacation rental homes, hotels, motels and rental businesses to stem the spread of COVID-19.

The city can't control beaches or state parks, but they limited access by setting up signs and closing roads.

"They're just protecting our city and taking it seriously. It was a good step on Westport to do that,” said Anderson.

The measures aren’t just being taken in Westport, further down the coast in Pacific County they’re also limiting access to beaches because of the coronavirus.