There will be a summer at the Jersey shore and lake communities.
In what Gov. Phil Murphy termed the “biggest step” the state will make in reopening the state so far, beaches on the Jersey Shore and lake communities will open the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend, May 22.
“The shore is central to our Jersey identity and we want to ensure that families can safely enjoy it this summer,” said Murphy at his daily press briefing May 14.
Confidence to Open
“We have confidence residents and out-of-state visitors can take in a day at the beach safely,” added the governor. “So long as the measures we are announcing are followed.”
The procedures and guidelines to be enforced for those looking to enjoy a day at the beach include beaches and lakefronts communities limiting the amount of people given access so socially distancing is observed. Families and households are allowed to cluster together, but otherwise people need to be six feet apart.
Banned at beaches are organized games or contact sports, recreational summer camps and special events drawing crowds, including fireworks and concerts.
Boardwalk staples such as rides, arcades, games, water fountains, playgrounds and visitor centers will remain shuttered for now.
Restaurants along the boardwalk can offer takeout and delivery, while retailers must abide by curbside-only restrictions.
The final determination for swimming will be made by local municipalities, with showers, changing areas and restrooms remaining open and cleaned regularly, said Murphy.
“Every beach will be required to establish capacity limitations, but we will leave it to local leaders to determine the method that would be best for their community,” he said. “No community can turn a public beach into a de facto private one.”
Additionally, the governor announced bathrooms will be opened at state parks and county parks after being thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. State officials had commented earlier in the week of human waste being left in the parks as an issue park supervisors had raised.
Murphy said actions on community pools and charter fishing is still being looked at but he hoped to have an update soon.
Following Parks, Golf
State officials said the opening of beaches was due in part to the overwhelming success it observed with park and golf course openings under social distancing guidelines. Among the restrictions placed on parks were parking lots limited to 50% capacity and playgrounds, restrooms, pavilions, and visitors centers closed.
For golf, tee times were extended to 16 minute intervals for two players at a time, unless the foursome consists of immediate family or caretaker; one cart per person with exceptions made for family members or caretakers and frequent cleaning of common areas including restrooms, ranges and carts.
The governor has encouraged the increased use of face coverings, but understands that may be impractical at the beaches.
The opening of beaches comes a day after the governor announced retail stores can offer limited service and construction sites can resume activity on May 18. For non-essential retail stores, small businesses will be able to open for curbside pickup only following social distancing protocol.
For construction, the order mandates sites to clearly post safety protocols, workers must wear face coverings, nonessential visitors are not allowed, work hours will be staggered, break times will be limited, and proper sanitation required.
Additionally, Murphy clarified rules on gatherings of people in cars. For those following social distancing guidelines, drivers and their passengers can now attend drive-in movies, religious services and drive-through farms and safaris while remaining in their cars. The order went into effect May 13.