GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — The parking lot at Grand Haven State Park was shut down Sunday as the city works on decreasing the number of visitors at the park. 

This comes after the city says the parking lot was packed with crowds two weekends in a row with little social distancing.

“We knew that with the nice weather, it’d get busy and so we just knew we would have to keep an eye on it,” said Mayor Robert Monetza.

Monetza says the beaches were much better on Sunday afternoon. The parking lot was empty and a few visitors sat scattered around. 

“It’s a gorgeous West Michigan day, so we wanted to see what the beach was like,” said visitor Deb DeYoung as she stood next to the lake.

The city says this is usually the time of year where they begin seeing tourists after quiet winters. They say this is the first time they’ve ever asked visitors not to come to the beach. 

“We really want people to come visit, but our priority here is public health and safety. That’s number one. If we can get people to stay home or closer to home and come here later when it’s safer, that’s what we’re trying to accomplish,” Monetza said. 

While the closed parking lot seemed to slow crowds at the shore, people were still out in big numbers just down the road at Pronto Pup. 

Pronto Pup in Grand Haven. (May 3, 2020)

“It’s a nice day and we figured we could get outside, come out and see what’s going on,” said customer Peyton Courteau after buying one of their famous hot dogs. 

The city says they still want people to enjoy the outdoors, just at a safe distance. The parking lot at the city beach is open and officials say pedestrians are still welcome to visit the beaches.

“We’ve been following the governors executive order and we’re trying to respect that this is a serious situation. So yeah, we understand. We’re frustrated also, but this is the safest thing we can do. This is also the quickest way out of this,” Monetza said.

The city says there’s no specific deadline for the parking lot closures. They say they’re looking forward to being able to welcome visitors back when the threat of COVID-19 passes.