New Jersey’s beaches and lakefronts will reopen in time for Memorial Day Weekend, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Thursday.
Some areas of the beach towns will remain closed, including water fountains and other congregate areas. Contact sports will still be prohibited, as will gatherings like concerts and fireworks shows. Arcades and amusement rides will remain closed as well.
Restaurants will remain open, for takeout and curbside pickup only.
But restrooms, shower pavilions and changing areas will be opened at the beaches. And restrooms at parks will also be opened, as long as they can be thoroughly and regularly sanitized, Murphy said.
Murphy also urged towns to set limits on the amount of daily beach badges they sell.
BREAKING: The Jersey Shore will be open in time for Memorial Day Weekend, with social distancing guidelines in place. The Shore is central to our Jersey identity and we want to ensure that families can safely enjoy it this summer. pic.twitter.com/BojwAZKih5— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) May 14, 2020
Beaches had shut down months ago as part of a statewide stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the shutdowns were slowly being lifted on a town-by-town basis.
Len Desiderio, mayor of Sea Isle City, joined Murphy at the news conference. Other Shore leaders had worked with the state on reopening plans, the governor said.
Murphy said the state was “ensuring that the Jersey Shore can be open to families across our states and region,” and that it can be done safely. The beaches will be open both to state residents and out-of-state visitors.
This will go into effect on Friday, May 22, 2020.
"After months at home, I know many families, probably measured in the hundreds of thousands if not millions, cannot wait for a day either down the shore or alongside one of our lakes," Murphy said.
He said promising numbers were key to announcing the decision Thursday.
"Memorial Day weekend is still more than a week away, but the data tells us we can make this announcement now," Murphy said.
County leaders had pleaded to Murphy to allow for reopening beaches and local businesses as soon as possible, citing tourism as a massive chunk of the county economy.
Avalon, Stone Harbor and Ventnor opened their beaches for jogging and exercise, but no swimming was permitted. Wildwood opened its boardwalk to visitors last week, the first in Cape May County to do so.
Murphy said to expect further news about pools and fishing.