Ocean County towns begin opening beaches for the summer
While restrictions are gradually being lifted during the pandemic, towns across Ocean County are determining the best and safest ways to open up beaches and boardwalks.
In Point Pleasant Beach, Mayor Paul Kanitra has plans to open their Maryland Avenue beach and the beach associations coming north from there on May 15 at which point they will also discuss the opening of short term vacation rentals and add in parking restrictions as they won't have Class 1 and 2 police officers until after Memorial Day so resources will be limited.
Kanitra's hope is to open all the beaches by the 4th of July weekend for residents and tourists with safety being a top priority during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
"For us locally, we want when people return to Point Pleasant Beach in July and August, we want to welcome them back with big open arms and make sure that they feel incredibly safe here, that there's no second wave and we're doing everything possible so we can keep everyone safe and get back to normal as quickly as possible" Kanitra told WOBM News.
Before Point Pleasant Beach opens up anything, Kanitra explains that they need to take all the precautions necessary to keep everyone safe.
"On a busy weekend here we can get 50-60 thousand people here in Point Pleasant Beach," Kanitra said. "When we do open for 4th of July, in many ways we're opening ourselves up to the masses in general which is why we're taking these measured safe approaches."
Ocean County mayors, like many others across New Jersey, are awaiting regulations to be in put in place for the summer for what is allowed and what isn't allowed.
"We need to have as much guidance as possible. There's been some discussion coming out of Trenton that they may look at limiting the number of people on beaches, limiting parking...tackling it from a couple different angles but that's something that is universal that we do need to know," Kanitra told WOBM News. "If Trenton is going to paint the Jersey Shore with a broad swath in terms of limitations, restrictions, numerical equations...whatever they might be...we need to know that sooner rather than later."
In Toms River, which includes the section of Ortley Beach, Mayor Maurice "Mo" Hill says they plan to open up their beach on Saturday for residents but will wait for the neighboring towns to open their boardwalks and then follow suit.
For now the boardwalk remains chained off.
Hill is confident that residents will abide by social distancing regulations on the beach.
"I think that most people get it, the're going to practice social distancing," Hill told WOBM News. "If you've been on the beach in the summer season nobody has their blanket right on top of somebody else, there's 6-10 feet between blankets. I anticipate that people will follow the rules."
As the summer rolls in, Hill says class one and two officers will patrol the beach to ensure compliance with social distancing.
There will certainly be an increase in foot and vehicle traffic as beaches open back up and it's something the township is keeping an eye on.
"The cars are going to be apart anyway. The important thing is that when people are interacting there's that maintenance of social distancing," Hill said. "We're going to have traffic, we're going to have the parking issues and right now there hasn't been any guidance from the state as far as restrictions on parking. We anticipate using our parking lot here on 3rd Avenue."
Hill said they're also anticipating a normal summer rental season as well.
"We are still doing our Rental C.O. inspections in getting ready for the season and anticipating a normal season starting with Memorial Day," Hill said.
Lavallette and Seaside Park have opened up their beaches while Bay Head is discussing their approach with neighboring Point Pleasant Beach and Mantoloking. Seaside Heights remains closed for the time being. Harvey Cedars is open.
Brick Mayor John Ducey announced this week that Brick Beach I, Brick Beach II and Brick Beach III are open but the parking lot for BB III is closed due to a previously scheduled project.
The Brick Reservoir, which is managed by the Brick Township Municipal Utilities Authority, has been closed since March 16.
The Brick beach openings were reported previously by Dan Alexander.