The parking lot outside Ortley Beach’s Acme supermarket on Friday just after 5 p.m. resembled a scene one might expect from the July 4 holiday: packed-in cars, many with out-of-state license plates and even more with dealership logos from destinations hours away.
The staff, still on its winter schedule, could barely keep up. Arguments broke out over shopping carts and cash registers. Customers stood shoulder-to-shoulder. It was a microcosm of what has become a serious problem amidst the coronavirus pandemic: population shifts that could unexpectedly inundate stores, medical facilities and infrastructure.
On Monday, two Jersey Shore lawmakers, Assemblymen Greg McGuckin and John Catalano, said they were concerned about the influx of people flocking to their “shore homes” to weather the coronavirus outbreak. At a press conference Saturday afternoon, Gov. Phil Murphy ordered all residents to stay in their primary homes.
“The governor has ordered the entire state to ‘stay home,’ and this includes those who want to flee to the beaches but should remain at their primary residences,” said McGuckin (R-Ocean). “We understand that those who own shore properties want to escape and social distance themselves at the beach, but this will put a strain on too many of our businesses and hospitals in the area.”
The two lawmakers say any surge of population at shore towns will jeopardize its already overburdened health care facilities and supermarkets.
“Now is not the time for a trip to the Jersey Shore and we are urging those who own second homes or properties at the shore to stay put,” added Catalano (R-Ocean). “Our local businesses and hospitals are already feeling the strain to keep up with the demands of their local patrons. In these uncertain times, it’s imperative that all residents adhere to the orders set forth by the governor and local officials.”