OCEAN COUNTY- As the weather starts warming up, the beaches and boardwalks start to fill up. And that, officials said, is a recipe for spreading the COVID-19 virus.
Medical experts are calling for social distancing, and keeping at least 6 feet away from other people, which becomes difficult on boardwalks and beaches. The Mantoloking Bridge County Park and Fishing Pier in Brick and Ortley Beach boardwalk and beach in Toms River have already closed.
“While tourism is Ocean County’s bread and butter, we do ask everyone to stay in their primary homes and not relocate to a summer house in Ocean County or anywhere else,” Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari said. “Many of our seasonal restaurants and businesses are closed and do not have the staff or the supplies to cater to this sudden increase in population.”
Officials are concerned that tourists will strain the local medical and emergency network, and further deplete grocery stores.
“The best way to take care of your family is to stay home and do not travel,” Vicari said.
“To stop the spread of this virus and protect the health and well-being of our families and our neighbors we must all adhere to these extraordinary measures,” said Freeholder Gerry P. Little, liaison to the Ocean County Health Department. “By working together, we can protect all of our residents, especially the elderly and those with underlying health conditions who are most at risk of getting seriously ill.”
Towns with restrictions on beach or boardwalk access include:
- Bay Head: A Proclamation of a Local State of Emergency allows the police chief to close pubic parks, beaches and streets “as needed” to enforce social distancing.
- Island Heights: The scenic river boardwalk and all other public access areas are closed.
- Lavallette: Beaches and the boardwalk are closed.
- Long Beach Township: No dogs are allowed on bay beaches. Ocean beaches remain open.
- Mantoloking: Beaches remain open, but parking is prohibited on all public streets except for essential personnel and services.
- Point Pleasant Beach: The Boardwalk is closed. Barriers are being placed on both inlet and Boardwalk parking lots. Jenkinson’s is also closed.
- Seaside Heights: All ocean and bay beaches are closed. The Boardwalk is also closed.
- Seaside Park: The boardwalk is closed. Ocean beaches remain open.
- Ship Bottom: All parks and bay beaches are closed. Ocean beaches are open.
These towns have placed restrictions or are in the process of placing restrictions on rental properties:
- Bay Head: No rentals on Airbnb or similar online services.
- Lavallette: Has banned renting out homes on Airbnb and other online marketplaces.
- Long Beach Township: All rentals are banned.
- Point Pleasant Borough: Banning all Airbnb and vacation rentals.
- Point Pleasant Beach: Local officials are drafting a resolution to place an immediate moratorium on the renting of all vacation homes and properties.