“Memories are made” on the Jersey Shore, Phil Murphy declared today as he announced state beaches will open for Memorial Day weekend.
But trite slogan or not, this isn’t going to be business as usual.
Beach-goers in most cases will be required to maintain “socialdistancing,” although masks are only recommended, not required.
Capacity will be limited, but Murphy will leave the details up to individual towns. Playing games on the beach and such displays as fireworks will be banned.
The governor also said that all public beaches must remain public.
There have been reports that some towns have been trying to restrict access to residents only.
So, Murphy, to his credit, said he didn’t want municipalities to use the pandemic to make public beaches, private. Lakes, by the way, are included in the opening up policy as well.
Restrictions or not, Cape May Freeholder Leonard Desiderio hailed the announcement as simply great news. Desiderio, who journeyed from the tip of southern New Jersey to Trenton for today’s briefing, said the opening day of May 22 – the Friday of Memorial Day weekend – gives shore communities time to prepare for a summer that’s destined to be unlike any other.
On Wednesday, the governor announced a number of other reopening steps, including allowing non-essential businesses to open on Monday for curbside pick-up. And he hinted today that more steps are coming, including something related to public pools. On Wednesday, he said those overseeing pools can fill them with water, a rather strong sign they’ll be opening soon.
While there is some political pressure from Republicans and others to reopen the state more quickly, the governor insists he is driven solely by available data. As of now, that data continues to show decreases in new COVID-19 cases, but all the news is not good.
Murphy reported an additional 244 virus-related deaths today, bringing the statewide total to just under 10,000.
The governor’s handling of the pandemic is polling well, a point stressed today by the state Democratic Committee.
In a statement, the committee suggested Republicans are “growing increasingly desperate as they launch irresponsible, partisan attacks against the governor in the midst of the pandemic.”
The “attacks” highlighted by the committee included recent stratements by GOP legislators urging a quick reopening and hyping the drug, hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug that is not a proven remedy for COVID-19, according to the FDA.
As we know, Democrats always attack Republicans, and vice-versa, but with Murphy’s approval ratings in the 70 percent region, it’s clear Democrats want to take advantage of what they think is a weakened GOP position.
It’s an effective strategy today, but the situation can always change.