Beaches, campgrounds open in NJ as Murphy increases limit on gatherings

Posted at 5:21 PM, May 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-22 18:22:44-04

POINT PLEASANT BEACH, N.J. — Just in time for Memorial Day weekend, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has announced that he is lifting the limit on outdoor gatherings in New Jersey from 10 people to 25 people max, while indoor gatherings remain limited to 10 and face coverings and social distancing are still necessary.

The governor also announced that campgrounds may reopen, effective immediately.

But the boardwalk in one of New Jersey’s most popular beach towns will remain closed for the holiday weekend. The corridor between Jenkinson's and Martell's Tiki Bar in Point Pleasant Beach was quiet today, except for the buzz of construction and maintenance workers, no one is allowed on the boardwalk or the beach next to it. The beach on the south side of Point Pleasant is open, but beach badges will be limited.

The beach nearest to the boardwalk will reopen next week, with the boardwalk to follow in two weeks.

"I want to make sure that our economy is booming and I'm pushing to get our businesses open as quickly as we can," said Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Paul Kanitra. "But I’m not going to do the equivalent of opening an NBA game with a full capacity crowd and have 60,000 people here in an unmanageable way."

Point Pleasant Beach is also grappling with the added challenge of policing social distancing rules, while the seasonal force is down by almost 70%. State training stalled in early spring and hasn’t been restarted yet. The mayor doesn’t expect a full police contingent until July.

"I feel like we got issued an unsupported mandate from Trenton," said Mayor Kanitra. "They told us that we have to limit capacity on our beaches, they told us that we need to enforce social distancing, but we don’t necessarily have the resources to do that."

State resources are also dwindling.

Today, the Treasury Department slapped a dollar amount on what coronavirus may cost the state over the next year: $10 billion in lost revenues. And that's if the virus does not resurge.

Without help from Washington, Gov. Murphy has warned that this may mean job cuts for police, teachers, first responders and government employees. He would not say if taxes will go up.

"Suffice it to say, the hard choices are now at our doorstep," said the Governor.