Jersey shore towns prepare for a socially distanced Memorial Day weekend

MARGATE, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Between new social distancing rules and the weather, there are a lot of unknowns down the shore for Memorial Day weekend.

All public and private beaches In New Jersey can reopen Friday with certain restrictions.

Gov. 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.

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Shore towns prepare for a socially distanced Memorial Day weekend.

Towns and businesses were busy preparing on Thursday and are hoping for the best.

In Margate, where the beaches will open to sunbathers on Friday, many are wondering what the holiday weekend will bring.

"There's the group of people that want to social distance and then there's the group of people that just want everything to reopen. I'm kind of in the middle of that," said Faith Bocian, of Lancaster, Pa. who has been at the shore all week.

Officials up and down the Jersey shore are asking people who come to the beach to stay 6 feet from other families.

Lucy the Elephant is closed, but Cousins Grill right next door opened Thursday, hoping for some customers this weekend.

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Shore towns prepare for a socially distanced Memorial Day weekend.

"We've always been sanitary minded but now it's even five steps above that," said owner Norm Imber.

In Avalon, Tonio's Pizza and Seafood is preparing to take a hit, with the loss of in-house dining and late night crowds. They hope people will order take out pizza, or fresh seafood from their market.

"We're scared. We're worried about it but we're dealing with it," said owner Anthony Galvi.

At the ICONA Avalon Resort, the lobby, banquet hall and brewery are all empty. CEO Eustace Mita can't open his doors.

Mita says, "Memorial Day is not just the kick-off, it's also our biggest day for lodging. The psychology is people are going to look right past June and say, 'Oh summer starts July 4.'"

He says the continued lockdown for hotels in Avalon and the shore has meant crippling losses.

"ICONA, personally, I can tell you it's in the millions already," said Mita.

The Avalon Beach Patrol unloaded their new uniforms Thursday morning at headquarters, preparing for their first weekend on duty. The guards won't meet every morning like they usually do. Instead, they'll go straight to their posts for a socially distanced setup.

"One person on a stand and one person on a lifeboat or walking around in front," said Avalon Beach Patrol Captain Murray Wolf.

No beach tags are needed this weekend in Avalon. Instead, beach tag checkers will be handing out information about beach regulations and social distancing.

"We have signs up at every boardwalk entrance and beach path entrance to remind people - just when you're the family stay 6 feet apart from other individuals," said Avalon Business Administrator Scott Wahl.

Memorial Day events that honor fallen service members have been canceled all across the Jersey shore, but some towns are planning virtual events and tributes.


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