Coronavirus may be extending the Jersey Shore season
Plenty of New Jerseyans never want summer to end.
And this year more than any other, with children learning from home and parents working remotely, families have the option to extend their time and opportunities at the shore — to round out a season that took longer to ramp up due to stringent restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Business owners and officials are welcoming the stretched-out season.
"Right now the campaign is there's still a lot of summer left," said Diane Wieland, director of the Cape May County Department of Tourism.
While the appeal of the shore may not be as event-driven in 2020, Wieland said, attractions such as boardwalks and wineries are still available. And starting Friday, restaurants can add indoor dining, at 25% capacity, to their outdoor offerings.
"Businesses need to make the money to operate and they need to stay open longer to even play catch-up," Wieland said. "The other side of the business coin is it could be difficult to get employees."
According to Wieland, the county is seeing many second homeowners decide to stay seaside for the time being. That's good news for businesses in the area.
In a number of towns along the shore, lifeguards and beach attendants will remain at their posts later into the calendar than usual, according to the Asbury Park Press. Beach staff will be on site seven days a week in Asbury Park, Long Branch and Asbury Park.
A spokesperson for Casino Pier & Breakwater Beach in Seaside Heights said it's "keeping all options on the table right now" regarding a closing date for the premiere attractions, given a unique summer that may be extended by customer demand.
As it's always done, Jenkinson's in Point Pleasant Beach will keep rides open on weekends through Columbus Day. Arcades and the aquarium are open year round, while games and golf are typically open on weekends, sometimes during the week, through October.
Mike Loundy, broker for Seaside Realty and Seaside Heights' director of community improvements, has seen an uptick in inquiries about and bookings of shore rental properties through September.
"It seems like just shy of half the people that we talk to have the ability to work from home, which is a really big number," Loundy said. "They have the ability to seamlessly continue to earn and be at the Jersey Shore. It's a pretty good combination."
Off-season rates are typically discounted 25 to 33% compared to summer rates, Loundy said.
"We're trying to pick up on the back end what we couldn't on the front end, and customers seem to be responding," he said.
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at email@example.com
More from New Jersey 101.5: