Three popular boardwalks at the Jersey Shore are closing down temporarily to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. Ocean City announced Wednesday afternoon they were closing the boardwalk and all beaches effective immediately.
The decision came after New Jersey, which has seen at least 62 deaths and more than 4,400 cases so far, issued an administrative order Tuesday night giving municipalities the discretion to impose restrictions to local beaches and boardwalks.
“I want to take every measure I can to protect the community,” Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian wrote in a release. “We have a large senior population, and it’s of utmost importance to take their well-being into consideration.”
Full coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak and how it impacts you
Both Point Pleasant Beach and Spring Lake also announced they were closing their boardwalks. Community leaders in Point Pleasant Beach had first urged people to stay off the boardwalk due to it being too narrow for them to practice effective social distancing.
“Our hand was forced here in Point Pleasant Beach,” Mayor Paul Kanitra said. “At the end of the day, we tried to give people the right opportunity to take social distancing measures into their own hands. They didn’t and we were forced to act.”
In Seaside Heights, the boardwalk is still open but beaches are closed. Access points were gated and locked in part to make the borough less inviting.
“We wanted to discourage people from coming down,” Seaside Heights Mayor Tony Vaz said. “I never thought I’d be saying that, ‘Discourage people from coming down,’ but I am. We don’t have the infrastructure in our town or in our county. Our hospitals are overwhelmed now.”
As for Point Pleasant Beach, Mayor Kanitra said people can still go on the sand, at least for now.
“If people unfortunately choose to not social distance appropriately on our beaches, we’ll have to close those as well.”
Point Pleasant Beach also put a temporary ban on all new home rentals in town. Mayor Kanitra said they don’t have the resources at the moment to accomodate an influx of people.