May 07, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced residents of the Greater Philadelphia region to stay at home, practice social distancing, and not gather in private or public settings to help further mitigate the spread of the virus. It also has caused non-essential businesses to shut down across the region.
But as the weather continues to improve during the spring months, many are itching to get outside and make the most of the sunny days and warm temperatures. With state and county parks—including Island Beach State Park in Ocean County—and golf courses having reopened across New Jersey, many beachgoers are becoming hopeful that there may very well be a summer season at the Jersey Shore after all.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said on May 14 that all Jersey Shore beaches will reopen under new rules that adhere to social distancing. The measures, which take effect on May 22, include limiting capacity on beaches, staying six feet apart from other groups, special events remaining banned, and the strong encouragement of wearing face masks.
At the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak across the state, many Jersey Shore towns took several steps to keep visitors and second-home owners from coming to the region. That included closing beaches and boardwalks off to the public, as well as banning short-term rentals.
Likewise, Murphy implored visitors and Jersey Shore property owners in March to stay away from beach towns until the pandemic had passed, citing the strain that an influx of people would have on local infrastructure.
Therefore, the decision to reopen beaches and boardwalks, as well as to allow rentals, is in the hands of municipalities. Some Jersey Shore towns have already begun taking steps towards reopening their beaches and boardwalks, as well as permitting rentals, ahead of the unofficial start of the summer season over Memorial Day weekend.
Below is a complete list of every Jersey Shore town that has reopened its beaches and/or boardwalks, as well as allowed rentals to resume.
• AVALON and STONE HARBOR: The mayors of both Avalon and Stone Harbor announced in a joint statement on May 4 that limited access to each of their beaches will be allowed starting on Friday, May 8. Beachgoers can walk, run, fish, and surf. However, chairs and blankets remain prohibited on the beaches for the time being, and social distancing must be practiced by beachgoers. The beaches will be regularly patrolled to ensure there are no large gatherings, the mayors said.
• CAPE MAY: The city announced on May 1 that its beaches and promenade would reopen on May 2 for walking, jogging, running, fishing, and surfing. Sitting on chairs or blankets and sunbathing will be permitted as of May 22. Swimming, sunbathing, picnicking, and other activities remain prohibited. Beachgoers and promenade visitors are required to practice social distancing by keeping six feet apart, not congregating in groups, and wearing face masks. Walking and jogging will be permitted on the promenade, but biking, skateboarding, and rollerblading are prohibited.
• OCEAN CITY/SEA ISLE CITY/UPPER TOWNSHIP: Ocean City, Sea Isle City, and Strathmere—which is part of Upper Township—will allow beachgoers to sunbath and sit in chairs as of May 16. The beach patrol will return over Memorial Day weekend, when beach tags will be required. Swimming is still prohibited until lifeguards return. The mayors of all three municipalities announced on May 9 that its beaches would reopen for exercise and active recreation. Beachgoers are required to practice social distancing, and gatherings remain banned.
• WILDWOOD and NORTH WILDWOOD: North Wildwood Mayor Patrick Rosenello announced on his Facebook page on May 5 that both North Wildwood and Wildwood's beaches, boardwalk, parks, and playgrounds will reopen on Friday, May 8. The boardwalk will only reopen for biking, walking, and running. Those out on the boardwalk or beaches are required to practice social distancing and stay six feet apart. Additionally, short-term rentals may resume starting Tuesday, May 26.
• WILDWOOD CREST: The town announced on April 30 that its beaches would reopen for recreational use on May 2. Those activities include walking, jogging, biking, fishing, and surfing. However, sunbathing and sitting on the beach, as well as any organized sports and social gatherings, will remain banned. Beachgoers are urged to practice social distancing.
• ATLANTIC CITY: The city's beaches and boardwalks have remained open to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.
• BRIGANTINE: Several of the city's beaches have remained open to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic as long as beachgoers practice social distancing. However, the Cove Beach recreation area, Brigantine sea wall, and North Beach observation tower remain closed.
• LONGPORT: The borough's beaches have remained open during the COVID-19 pandemic, but beachgoers are required to practice social distancing. Activities such as walking, jogging, and exercising are permitted, but sunbathing, sitting in chairs, organized sports, and gatherings of people are prohibited.
• MARGATE CITY: The city's beaches have remained open during the COVID-19 pandemic, but only jogging, walking, and exercising are permitted. Social distancing guidelines must be followed by beachgoers, and sunbathing, sitting in chairs, organized sports, and gatherings of people are banned.
• VENTNOR: The city announced that its beaches will open on Friday, May 8 for passive recreational activity such as walking, running, jogging, exercising, and dog walking. Beachgoers are required to practice social distancing, and swimming, sunbathing, sitting in chairs or on towels, organized sports, gatherings, and surfing were prohibited. The boardwalk will remain closed. As of May 13, surfing and paddle boarding are allowed.
• BARNEGAT LIGHT: The borough's beaches have remained open during the COVID-19 pandemic, but beachgoers must practice social distancing.
• BEACH HAVEN: The borough announced in April that beaches would only remain open to residents and property owners with emergency placards. Walking, jogging, and dog-walking are permitted on the beaches, but all other activities are banned. Beachgoers are also encouraged to practice social distancing.
• HARVEY CEDARS: The borough announced on May 5 that its beaches are open to the public, but that use of the beaches can only be on foot and beachgoers must practice social distancing. Vehicles such as beach buggies are banned, and people are banned from congregating on the beaches.
• LONG BEACH TOWNSHIP: The township announced on May 4 that its beaches have now reopened to the public, who are encouraged to practice social distancing. Rentals in the town can resume on June 1, and beach badges will required as of the same date.
• SHIP BOTTOM: The borough announced on May 4 that its beaches are now open to the public, but that social distancing must be practiced by beachgoers. Additionally, rentals can resume in the borough on May 15.
• SURF CITY: The borough's beaches have remain opened during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is a developing story. Please check back for more updates.