SHORE, WE’RE NERVOUS
Jersey girds for swarm of N.Y.ers fleeing from shuttered beaches
Take the movie “Jaws,” replace the big shark with a deadly global pandemic, and you have something close to the anxiety hovering over New Jersey beaches this weekend.
Not since former Gov. Chris Christie had the beach to himself during a state government shutdown in 2017 has this much sand been kicked up over access to the Jersey Shore.
With city beaches closed for Memorial Day amid coronavirus restrictions, and Long Island beaches limited to local residents, the Jersey Shore is bracing for an influx from its New York neighbors eager to break the bonds of cabin fever and get out and soak in some sun.
“New Yorkers have helped us for many years,” said Dillon Mullock, general manager of the Chalfonte Hotel in Cape May. “As long as everyone keeps their distance, I don’t think there could be a safer place.”
Hotels like the Chalfonte can’t open until June 1, but operators have been preparing for the summer season. Last week, Gov. Phil Murphy said New Jersey beaches will be open for business on May 22, just in time for the holiday weekend, with a list of restrictions as long as the shore line.
Among them are no special events, no playgrounds, no rides and no arcades. Social distancing rules are in effect, and beaches are subject to capacity limits.
“A trip to the beach is a treasured pastime for New Jerseyans on Memorial Day weekend just as it is for residents in our neighboring states,” Murphy said. “By aligning our social distancing policies for beaches,
we can bring some semblance of a ‘new normal’ to our region ahead of the first weekend of the summer season.”
But not everyone in New Jersey is eager to dive right in. Brooklyn resident Monique Greenwood rented out her Cape May bed-and-breakfast for the holiday weekend, but she said she is a little nervous about getting back to business.
“I’ve been down the shore last two weekends,” said Greenwood, who operates
Akwaaba at Buttonwood Manor in Cape May. “They are very liberal about this,” she said of the locals. “They’re not really wearing masks.”
Greenwood said she had a contractor working at the property, and he didn’t wear a mask.
“I kept trying to keep my distance,” Greenwood said. “He kept coming close to tell me things.”
Finally, Greenwood said, she mentioned something about his lack of a mask. But instead of addressing the i sue, she said the contractor sked if she was a Democrat.
“I was a little unnerved by ,” she said.
Instead of renting out individual rooms, Greenwood said she is renting the whole property to a family from Brooklyn. She said a wholehouse rental cuts down on coronavirus risks, as do the “fun packs” guests will receive instead of access to a parlor filled with shared books and games.
“When they finish using it they can take it home with them,” Greenwood said. “I’m calling their guest room a sanitized sanctuary.”
New Jersey’s beaches have not gotten this much attention from New Yorkers since 2017 when Christie — Gov. Murphy’s predecessor —stirred outrage by enjoying a seaside outing during a state government shutdown when public beaches were closed.
“The governor has a residence at Island Beach. Others don’t. That’s just the way it goes,” Christie said at the time. “Run for governor and you can have the residence.”
Most New Yorkers will simply settle for day trips since Mayor de Blasio announced that swimming will be forbidden at city beaches over the holiday weekend. People will still be allowed to stroll along the sand, but he warned that the city will fence it off if crowds get out of hand or start splashing in the water.
Meanwhile, Long Island pols enacted a ban on nonresidents visiting some of the area’s beaches.
Beaches run by the state Parks Department, like Jones Beach State Park and Robert Moses State Park, will open Memorial Day weekend — but at 50% capacity, Gov. Cuomo announced last week.
Beaches along Jersey Shore can expect a big influx of cooped-up New Yorkers invading their surf this weekend.
New York - MAY 20, 2020 - A NYPD Patrol car is seen at the Coney Island Boardwalk near closed businesses during the coronavirus pandemic outbreak. Mayor de Blasio threatened Sunday May 17, to have authorities set up fences at beaches if New Yorkers ignore social-distancing guidelines at the city**CHAR**s sandy shores. You want