As the weather warms, taking a walk on the beach or boardwalk can provide the breath of fresh air that so many New Jerseyans crave while sheltering from the coronavirus outbreak.
But even with proper social distancing, large gatherings in public places can be deadly. That’s why state and county parks were closed last week and many Shore towns have already closed their waterfronts.
During the past several days, popular destinations like Belmar, Point Pleasant Beach and Ocean City announced closures. Some smaller towns remain open but are monitoring their crowds to ensure safety.
Longport Mayor Nick Russo, who oversees a town with less than 1,000 people in Atlantic County, wants to keep beaches open as an outlet for residents — especially frontline workers — to relieve stress, get some fresh air and exercise.
“I’m very reluctant to cut that avenue off unless people are abusing their privilege,” Russo told NJ Advance Media on Thursday.
Although thunderstorms rolled across the state on Thursday and cold gusty winds made it miserable to be outside on Friday, the sun is expected to be shining this weekend — with temperatures forecast to rise into the 50s on Saturday and the 60s on Sunday. So it won’t be surprising if many folks in Shore communities will feel the urge to head outdoors.
In Deal, police have monitored their beaches, which remain open. While there haven’t been large gatherings, one unexpected visitor was spotted on the sand in this Monmouth County town Wednesday — a seal.
There is currently a seal resting on the beach. There is nothing wrong with it, this is perfectly normal. Do not approach, touch or attempt to drag the seal back to the water. They are just relaxing and will make their way back to the water.
Gov. Phil Murphy urged New Jerseyans with vacation homes to remain at their primary residences.
On Thursday, Harvey Cedars Mayor John Oldham said 45% of the homes in his Long Beach Island town were occupied. Beaches in Harvey Cedars are open, but only to homeowners who have a resident placard. The same policy was established in Long Beach Township, while other towns on the island have closed entirely.
How have other towns responded?
Below is a look at every town’s status we could find or report as of Thursday evening. Follow the links for additional information or formal announcements.
Atlantic City: Mayor Marty Small Sr. strongly opposes closures to the beach and boardwalk, according to the Press of Atlantic City. Both remain open.
Brigantine: Some areas were closed Thursday, including the Cove Beach recreation area, Brigantine Sea Wall and North Beach Observation Tower.
Longport: Beaches remain open as long as long as social distancing practices continue to be followed, according to Mayor Nick Russo
Margate City: Beach badge sales were suspended until May 1. Information regarding closures were not immediately available.
Ventnor: Mayor Beth Holtzman closed the beaches and boardwalk with an executive order that went into effect April 3.
Cape May County
Avalon: All beaches, the boardwalk, recreational fields, playgrounds and the kayak park were closed April 6 after Mayor Martin Pagliughi issued an executive order.
Cape May: City Manager and Chief Executive Officer Jerome Inderwies announced closures for beaches and the promenade on March 31.
Cape May Point: Beaches and the Pavilion Circle were closed March 30.
North Wildwood and Wildwood: Beaches will be closed from April 8 until May 1 except to provide an outlet. Here’s more information on the exceptions. The Wildwood boardwalk is also closed, but residents can walk, jog or bike on the bike path and seawall every morning prior to 8 a.m.
Ocean City: Mayor Jay Gillian announced the city would close its beaches and boardwalk on March 25. According to data a census report, 62% of the city’s populations is 65 years or older, which gave Gillian more impetus to close. A full story is here.
Sea Isle City: Mayor Leonard Desiderio closed beaches and the town’s promenade on March 27. Residents who pre-ordered beach tags will have to wait until May 1 (or later) for pickup.
Stone Harbor: Closure of the beaches, parks, marina and fishing pier went into effect April 8 and will remain until May 6, the borough announced.
Upper Township: Beaches and parks were closed March 27, according to a public safety message.
Wildwood Crest: Borough administrators announced beaches, parks and the beachfront bicycle path were closed as of April 6.
Allenhurst: Beach and boardwalk are open. On March 26, officials sent a letter to residents saying “we believe our residents are smart enough to use these areas as means of getting some fresh air without violating the rules relative to maintaining safe distance from one another”.
Asbury Park: The boardwalk was closed March 27, but beaches remain open at four locations.
Avon-by-the-Sea: The boardwalk was closed March 31 but the beach can be accessed at East End Avenue and Washington Avenue.
Belmar: The boardwalk closed March 30, but the beach remains open for residents. There are access points at five locations.
Bradley Beach: The boardwalk closed March 30 in coordination with neighboring Belmar and Avon-by-the-Sea, Mary Gary Engelstad wrote in a letter to residents.
Deal: Did you see the Deal seal? The beach in Deal remains open but is being monitored by police, according to Borough Administrator Stephen Carasia.
Long Branch: Mayor John Pallone announced the boardwalk, promenade and bike paths were closed as of April 2, but the beach remains open.
Manasquan: The beach walk and inlet walk are off limits to any type of activity, but visitors can still access the beach itself, according to Manasquan’s municipal website.
Monmouth Beach: Parks and beaches closed March 8, Mayor Sue Howard announced. The decision came in response to Gov. Phil Murphy’s Executive Order No. 118, which closed all state and county parks.
Ocean Grove: The beach and boardwalk remain open, according to the latest information released by the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association.
Sandy Hook: The National Park Service announced April 8 that the Sandy Hook unit of Gateway National Recreation Area has been closed until further notice.
Sea Bright: The beach remains open, but the seawall walkway is closed, Daniel Chernavsky, Sea Bright’s Emergency Management Coordinator, wrote in a letter to residents April 1.
Sea Girt: The boardwalk was closed March 26, but the beach remains open at certain locations.
Spring Lake: The boardwalk was closed March 24, but residents can still access the beach at two locations: Brown Avenue and Pitney Avenue, township police announced on Facebook.
Bay Head, Mantoloking and Point Pleasant Beach: The three towns collectively announced beach closures April 3. The boardwalk in Point Pleasant Beach is also closed.
Brick: The township closed all beaches and parks in response to Murphy’s executive order, which closed state and county parks. Closures in Brick went into effect April 7.
Lavallette: The boardwalk and beaches were closed March 26 and will remain closed until Murphy lifts the State of Emergency, the borough announced.
Seaside Heights: One of the first towns to close its boardwalk and beaches, Seaside Heights banned visitors on March 24 on both the ocean and bay sides of the borough.
Seaside Park: Beaches closed April 8 and will remain closed until further notice.
Toms River: Mayor Mo Hill said Thursday that all beaches in the Toms River section of the barrier island are closed. The list includes Ortley Beach, Ocean Beach and private sections in the north end. The boardwalk in Ortley Beach also remains closed.
Long Beach Island
Barnegat Light: Beaches are open. Old Barney, the famous lighthouse sitting in a state park, is closed. Mayor Mark Larson said the beaches will be closed if problems with social distancing arise.
Beach Haven: Residents and homeowners with emergency placards can walk, jog or exercise their dogs on the beach, the borough announced.
Harvey Cedars: Beaches are open for residents and homeowners with placards, Mayor John Oldham said Thursday
Long Beach Township: Full-time residents and homeowners with a placard can access beaches, the largest municipality on the island announced March 6.
Ship Bottom: Beaches were closed April 7 for all residents and homeowners for all activities, the borough announced.
Surf City: A borough official said Thursday that beaches are open unless problems with social distancing arise.
Island Beach State Park in Ocean County and other areas with waterfront access were closed as of Tuesday, April 7. You can find the full list of parks here.