The Jersey Shore will reopen by Memorial Day, but social distancing will be enforced

Just in time for summer, Gov. Phil Murphy has announced that beaches at the Jersey Shore and along the state’s lakefronts can reopen in time for Memorial Day.

News 12 Staff

May 14, 2020, 9:33 AM

Updated 1,430 days ago

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Just in time for summer, Gov. Phil Murphy has announced that beaches at the Jersey Shore and along the state’s lakefronts can reopen in time for Memorial Day.
But the governor said on Thursday social distancing guidelines will be enforced and that large gatherings for events such as concerts or fireworks will be prohibited.
Each town must establish its own capacity limitations and enforce social distancing rules. Beach access has varied from town to town over the last several weeks, as some have clashed with the state by opening parts of their beaches or have tried to restrict access to local residents only.
Seaside Heights Mayor Tony Vaz says that his town’s beaches will have a soft opening on Friday in preparation for a full reopening. But he says that there will be a lot of rules.
“No blankets, no chairs, no coolers. Next week may be different, but still not permitting swimming,” he says. “Tomorrow we will get an indication if people are following the rules.”
On Friday and on Memorial Day, there will be what Vaz calls “ambassadors,” along with police officers telling people to obey the signs and to keep six feet apart. Beachgoers will also need a seasonal badge to limit capacity.
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Boardwalk rides and games will still be closed. Food will be sold, but it must be taken to-go.
“The economy is hurting, but there’s nothing we can do until these numbers drop,” says Vaz. “The executive order still stands.”
Long Branch will be slightly laxer. Swimming will be allowed. Lifeguards will be responsible for watching the water and not for enforcing social distancing.
“In the case of a true emergency where we got to go in, we will pull them out,” says Long Branch beach manager Dan George.
George says that lifeguards will be on separate stands with masks if needed. Security will handle social distancing and the rule will be 10 people per family will be allowed to sit together. If the beach gets too busy, it will be shut down.
“We have a target amount. The ticket attendants will keep count of everyone on the beach, so we will know as it goes,” says George.
George says that his staff of 140 lifeguards can’t wait to work. But with water temperatures barely reaching 50 degrees, it may be a slow day at the beach.
The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.


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