Ocean City, Sea Isle City among New Jersey beaches open this weekend for 'dry run'

SEA ISLE CITY, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Though most New Jersey beach reopenings will take effect on May 22, some shore towns are getting an early start this weekend.

Sea Isle City Mayor Leonard Desiderio said his town and others would open this Saturday, May 16, for a "dry run" to gauge how things go.

"Sea Isle City is opening its beaches to regular access effective Saturday morning, May 16. Beachgoers are expected to follow social distancing guidelines - staying 6-feet apart as much as possible. It's critically important that everyone respects these guidelines so that all can enjoy Sea Isle's greatest natural asset," Desiderio wrote in a message posted on the town's website.

The Sea Isle City Beach Patrol does not go on duty until May 23.

"While much of our region and country works to re-open, we still have far to go. It has become clear that outdoor activity, done with respect for each other's space, is beneficial not only to our residents' physical health, but also their mental health," Desiderio said in his message

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Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Thursday that beaches on the Jersey shore will be open by Memorial Day weekend.

In Ocean City and Strathmere, full access to beach activities, including sunbathing, also opens on Saturday.

Ocean City is asking beachgoers to "please avoid social gathering and respect social distancing guidelines. Ocean City's beaches remain unguarded until Memorial Day Weekend, and the city always advises that people should swim only at protected beaches."

The boardwalk in Ocean City is open for walking, running, bicycling and for access to takeout food. "Curbside" pickup for retail stores will be permitted starting May 18.

But on Friday, many people were seen without masks.

Brown's Restaurant is encouraging distancing with spacing stencils on the boards.

"It's interesting see everything spread out usually people are back to back down the boardwalk," says employee Kelsey Ladd.

Also open and available are surrey and bike rentals. Ocean City bike center is keeping up with sanitization.

"We're just glad to see signs of life, a lot of people in town, it looks like it's gonna be a nice weekend," says owner Carl Glanzmann.

The Borough of Wildwood Crest lifted its beach restrictions Friday at 6 a.m., a day earlier than the other towns. People are allowed to sit and sunbathe on the beach. Swimming will be permitted when lifeguards are on duty beginning May 23.

"Organized beach games, contact activities and water play equipment are still prohibited at this time," the borough said. "Social-distancing measures are still in effect and should be utilized efficiently considering the relatively vast width of the Wildwood Crest."

Wildwood and North Wildwood beaches opened for limited activity including sunbathing on May 8. The boardwalks were also opened.
Officials in Cape May say they will wait until May 22 to allow sunbathing.

On Thursday, Governor Phil Murphy said each town must establish its own capacity limitations and ways to enforce social distancing. Restaurants on boardwalks can remain open for takeout only, and amusement parks and playgrounds will remain closed.

"The Jersey shore will be open in time for Memorial Day Weekend, with social distancing guidelines in place. The shore is central to our Jersey identity and we want to ensure that families can safely enjoy it this summer," Murphy said in a tweet.

The Cape May County Department of Health announced this week their social distance campaign, Six Feet Saves. It is an educational campaign that will be implemented to remind individuals to keep their distance to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

County officials said social distance ambassadors will be monitoring high volume areas, such as boardwalks, to remind people to keep their six feet, and to give educational materials on how to prevent being exposed to the virus.


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