Watch CBS News

NJ Beaches Open For Memorial Day Weekend Under New Coronavirus Safety Guidelines

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) - The Jersey Shore and beaches around New Jersey will be open for Memorial Day Weekend, with social distance restrictions still in place.

Gov. Phil Murphy made the announcement during his Thursday daily COVID-19 update, noting the plans are in sync with similar guidelines for New York, Connecticut and Delaware for the holiday.

By Memorial Day, local municipalities will have the freedom to set rules based on shared guidelines across the state which include the following steps:

  • Set capacity limiting the number of available beach tags for any given day.
  • Use technology to measure how close groups of people are grouped near each other.
  • Continue to enforce social distancing measures requiring at least 6-foot distances between beachgoers, enforced except for family groups, household members, caretakers or couples.
  • Organized games, contact sports, beach recreational summer camps will be prohibited.
  • Special events that draw people to the beach, such as concerts, festivals or fireworks, will also be prohibited.
  • Shower pavilions, changing areas and restrooms will be open and regularly cleaned.
  • Boardwalk restaurants may continue to operate for takeout and delivery only, but the rides, arcades games and other draws must remain closed.
  • Waterfront fountains, playgrounds or visitor centers must also remain closed.

The guidelines are being put into effect Friday, May 22, to give shore communities and counties an "eight-day runway" ahead of the holiday weekend. Some parts of the Jersey Shore reopened last weekend.

Even before Murphy's announcement, people lined up in Avon-By-The-Sea to secure their beach badges Wednesday. The line went on for blocks, with everyone keeping a safe social distance from each other.

WATCH: Seaside Heights Mayor Anthony Vaz Discusses Preparations For Beach Reopening

"We want everyone to have fun, but we need everyone to be safe," said Murphy. "To be clear, no one will be discriminated against. No community can turn a public beach into a de facto private one. All visitors must have the ability to enjoy our state's greatest natural resource."

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Digital signs advertising beach badges for sale lit up the sidewalks in Sea Bright on Thursday.

"I am so relieved, I am so glad that we're going to be able to be on the beach for Memorial Day," said Sea Bright resident Patty Mawer.

Chris Wood, the owner of Woody's Ocean Grille, has been waiting several weeks for word on whether beach communities would be able to roll out the welcome mat for Memorial Day.

"I think it's huge and we've always been looking for a little bit of guidance," Wood told CBS2's Jessica Layton. "We actually have outdoor seating here, which we've taken in, just because we just don't want people congregating, but we'd love to move that back outside as quickly as possible and get some of our servers making tips."

Watch Jessica Layton's report --

Although the governor gave his official blessing on the beaches opening Thursday, the decision on when to allow people on the beaches and boardwalks was always up to the municipalities.

But Sea Bright Mayor Brian Kelly says one consistent message that coastal communities are open for business is a boost.

"It helps all the shore towns," he said. "It's critical that we do open as much as possible in a safe manner."

The challenge will be in making sure everyone keeps taking precautions on the boardwalks, sidewalks and sand.

"I hope it goes pretty smoothly. We have a lot of signage up for social distancing. Our lifeguards and police are all trained and geared up for it," Kelly said.

The governor stressed social distance would continue to be strictly enforced.

"While we are not specifically ordering it, we highly recommend that you wear a face covering, particularly when social distancing is difficult to maintain such as waiting in line for a slice of boardwalk pizza," said Murphy.

WATCH: Gov. Murphy Updates On Status Of COVID-19 And Beach Reopenings

The governor said other aspects of reopening the state remain in progress.

"We are aggressively reviewing pool protocols, as well as charter fishing which are not part of this executive order, but we would expect to have some guidance in the next number of days on each of those fronts," said Murphy.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.