‘A very different’ Seaside Heights beach and boardwalk this season
SEASIDE HEIGHTS — The borough's beach and boardwalk reopen on Friday, with social distancing protocols in place, no swimming, reduced parking availability and no short term rentals for the Memorial Day weekend.
The Ocean County Shore community is among those looking to slowly open to the public, still observing Gov. Phil Murphy's executive order that prohibits gatherings of any size in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. The order remains in effect as Memorial Day weekend approaches.
Seaside Heights on Sunday announced the beach and boardwalk will reopen in phases beginning May 15, with limited access and activity along with a 5 p.m. closing for both. Several annual summer events in the borough also have been canceled.
“Make no mistake about it, our beach and boardwalk operations will be very different from past years," Mayor Anthony E. Vaz said in a statement. Besides amusements, restaurants, bars and retailers being affected by executive orders issued by Murphy.
As of May 10, the state has seen 138,532 cases based on test results and 9,255 COVID-19 deaths.
Visitors also will see less beach attendants, less lifeguards and less seasonal laborers because of what Vaz called a likely "substantial loss of revenue" amid the continued pandemic.
"We cannot sustain beach and boardwalk operations on the backs of local taxpayers. Nonetheless, we will work hard to give our visitors a worthwhile experience but we ask for everybody’s continued patience and understanding,” Vaz said.
Beach and boardwalk:
The widest restrictions will be in place for the first week, from May 15 — 22, with swimming and sunbathing prohibited and blankets, chairs, coolers not allowed on the beach. Boardwalk activity will be limited to walking, jogging and bicycle riding with no dogs allowed.
For that week, both the beach and boardwalk will be open 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Vaz said, with beach access limited to Blaine, Franklin, Hiering, and Hancock Avenues which all will be staffed.
During the second phase, the boardwalk will be open 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. and the boardwalk 7 a.m. - 11 p.m. with entry from Blaine Avenue, Franklin Avenue, Dupont Avenue, Hiering Avenue, Carteret Avenue and Hancock Avenue. A beach badge will be required to enter the beach. Chairs and towels will be allowed.
The north Bay-front boat ramp will be open, but no personal watercraft or boats will be permitted on the shoreline.
At all times, beach gatherings will be limited to 10 people or less, public restrooms will be closed and shower pedestals and water fountains will remain shrink wrapped and unavailable. Everyone will required to stay six feet apart on the beach and boardwalk with face coverings encouraged but not required.
Vaz said metered parking and lots will be reduced to 50% capacity. The Grant Avenue lot, Hiering Avenue lot, Sampson Avenue lot and the “free parking” lot at Webster Avenue & Bay Boulevard and boardwalk street end parking areas will be closed.
Short Term Rentals:
Short term rentals will continue to be prohibited through Memorial Day weekend and until May 31. Motels, hotels, and multi-family dwellings (3+ units) will be permitted to rent no more that 25% of available units between June 1 and June 31. The rest of the summer remains unconfirmed, as of May 10.
The Monday night concert series, tribute band concert series overnight beach camping, and "Wine On The Beach" are all canceled. No busker/performer permits will be issued through June 30. Third party special events in May and June are cancelled.
Vaz expects many of the restrictions to remain in place through the rest of the summer.
Seaside Heights Emergency Management Coordinator Erik Hershey asked all visitors and residents to comply with the restrictions put in place and to continue practice social distancing.
The borough's plans come ahead of what Murphy said at his state briefing Thursday would be "a significant amount of guidance in the next five to seven days" about summer business and activities.
"We are looking at a lot of things you’ve asked us about, whether it's beaches, non-essential retail or whatever it may be. And there's a lot of different considerations and a lot of steps that we are looking at," Murphy said.
Neighboring Seaside Park reopened its beach on Wednesday but the boardwalk is closed.
Lavallette, Seaside Park and Toms River (Ortley Beach) all are open as the unofficial start of summer approaches amid the state's first public health emergency.
Just south of Seaside, Island Beach State Park has been reopened since Murphy allowed state and county parks to reopen, operating at 50% capacity and with swimming prohibited.
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