Point Pleasant Beach’s municipal government is planning to open the town’s boardwalk and northern privately-owned beaches May 29, officials announced late Tuesday. Access to the recreation area at Manasquan Inlet will also be expanded.
The decision was made, at least in part, because of the “success of a very safe Memorial Day weekend.” The borough’s mayor, police chief and other officials toured the boardwalk Tuesday morning alongside business owners to determine whether enough pieces of a stringent social distancing puzzle were in place to allow a reopening. Indeed, it was time, the group decided. Among the plans under consideration was opening in a limited form, though it was ultimately rejected.
“Opening up corridors on the boardwalk was ultimately deemed to be counterproductive to public safety and therefore all barriers will be removed accordingly,” a statement from Mayor Paul Kanitra said.
Private businesses, the mayor said, will be doing their part by providing “social distancing ambassadors” along the portions where they service customers. Hand sanitizing stations have been set up at every beach access point and signage will be going up in the coming days.
The majority of the beaches in Point Pleasant Beach that are open to the public are owned by Jenkinson’s. Martell’s also owns a beach that is adjacent to its popular Tiki Bar. Martell’s announced that its beach will be open to customers come Friday. The bar menu will be limited to to-go items and will be announced later in the week.
“We are not permitted yet to sell alcohol on the beach,” however, a statement from the company said.
Representatives from Jenkinson’s – which owns the vast majority of the beachfront – said they would announce their plans for reopening Wednesday. Jenkinson’s Boardwalk, the formal name of the company, will not yet be able to open its arcades, games or amusement rides, as those businesses are still closed under Gov. Phil Murphy’s lockdown order. Food stands on the boardwalk will be able to mimic their off-boardwalk colleagues by offering to-go orders only.
The town’s controversial parking restrictions, which caused an uproar across the state, will be eased as Kanitra had always promised. On Friday, parking restrictions will be partially scaled back to allow for private and public lots to be opened. Residential streets, meanwhile, will still be off-limits to non-residents. The following Friday, June 5, the resident-only restrictions will be repealed completely.
The inlet parking lot will be returned to normal operations effective Wednesday. Visitors will be required to maintain a proper 6 foot distance at all times while fishing or conducting other activities.
“Like every decision we make, these measures are subject to change if the COVID-19 situation does,” Kanitra’s statement said. “We encourage all guests to take social distancing very seriously and help us create the safest environment on the Jersey Shore.”