After Oak Island leaders gently eased some restrictions, Caswell Beach officials set firm dates on Tuesday for removing key local emergency restrictions not imposed by Gov. Roy Cooper.

Caswell Beach’s regional beach access parking area and parking for the Oak Island Lighthouse will reopen Saturday, May 9, at 6 a.m., said Town Administrator Chad Hicks. The town will also allow short-term rentals beginning Friday, May 22. Everyone is still asked to maintain physical distancing and to stay home if they are sick.

Last Thursday, Oak Island agreed to allow people to swim, surf and also surf fish, but catch-and-release only. Beach access areas and right of way parking remains closed. Beach-goers may not bring chairs, towels, coolers or other gear, except for fishing or surfing.

“We want to get back open,” Mayor Ken Thomas said. “Our businesses are struggling.”

Council agreed to also open the skate park, so long as there are no more than 10 people there at one time. The town also reopened the public boat ramp and associated parking lot at NE 55th Street. No right of way parking is allowed in that area or elsewhere.

Town leaders agreed to reopen Bill Smith Park, the Par 3 golf course at South Harbour (walking only) and the parks on the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (Veterans Park and May Moore Park).

Anglers may keep legal catches at those two parks and they may also fish and boat in the marshes, Davis Canal and Montgomery Slough.

Long-term rentals – defined as 12 months or more on Oak Island – are also allowed.

“This goes a long way to relieve some pressure,” Thomas said.

Town Manager David Kelly said staff was making plans on how to reopen Town Hall once the governor gives the green light.

Staff is also talking with owners of restaurants and other businesses about health and fire safety inspections when they reopen, even if it initially involves allowing only a limited number of patrons.

Thomas said at last Thursday’s meeting he hoped to further ease restrictions by June 1. On Tuesday, he said he would ask council to consider following Caswell Beach’s relaxed requirements during a meeting on Friday, May 8, at 1 p.m.