World_news How Jersey Shore towns are gearing up for Memorial Day weekend amid coronavirus – NJ.com

World_news

The line Friday afternoon to buy a beach pass in Belmar was definitely shorter, a stark difference to when about50 beachgoers seemed to throw coronavirus cautions to the wind last weekand stood closely together while waiting.

Only about a dozen people were observed around noon standing on line at the Taylor Pavilion to buy a seasonal beach pass. While some were wearing masks and others were not, all were required to wear one once they entered the building to fill out a form for plastic passes.

About seven volunteers in blue shirts that donned the words “Friend Force” were on hand at the pavilion to ensure that people were socially distancing and following the rules. One of those on the Friend Force was Bill Lindsay, who has been living in town for about 25 years and also serves on the planning board.

“We’re just here to ask people to cooperate with social distancing and to make sure we get back to normal more quickly,” said Lindsay. He later added that “We’re all COVID-weary. Nobody wants to go backward at this point.”

The towntemporarily suspended the sale of season beach passesat 5 p.m. Friday and will resume selling them on Tuesday, after a photo surfaced last weekend of the line that stretched more than a block.

Daily beach badges will still be sold during the Memorial Day weekend, Lindsay said. The hope is this will avoid another long line, since it takes people some time to fill out a seasonal beach pass form rather than buy a quick daily badge.

People line up to purchase a seasonal beach badges at Taylor Pavilion in Belmar. The sale of season badges will be temporarily suspended at 5 p.m. today and resume the day after Memorial Day. Friday, May 22, 2020.

Patti Sapone | NJ Advance Media

Michael Ambrozia, of Freehold, stood on the ramp leading up to the pavilion as he filled out four seasonal pass forms for himself and those in his household. He passed by the line earlier in the day but noticed it was a bit longer.

Ambrozia, 21, returned once there were just three people waiting to get inside the building.

“I will not be coming down this Memorial Day,” he said, adding that he’ll probably only come to the beach on weekdays. “Gonna be a hard pass on that.”

People line up to purchase a seasonal beach badges at Taylor Pavilion in Belmar. The sale of season badges will be temporarily suspended at 5 p.m. today and resume the day after Memorial Day. Friday, May 22, 2020.

Patti Sapone | NJ Advance Media

Not every Shore town is using traditional forms for seasonal beach passes, either.

Laura, who declined to give her last name, went inside the North Beach office on the Seaside Height boardwalk to pay for a physical pass, but was told she had to use an app-Viply– instead. An attendant told her no physical beach passes were being sold this year.

“Government does not want me to touch money,” the attendant inside the office was overheard saying.

Laura has been living in Seaside Heights for just under a year but has been coming to this beach for the last five years. She too said she wouldn’t be coming to the beach on Memorial Day weekend.

“We know that’s when you avoid the beaches,” she said, adding that stands pre-pandemic too.

But businesses along the Seaside Heights boardwalk are hoping for a busy unofficial start of the summer. Memorial Day weekend is traditionally a cash cow for businesses at the Shore.

“It’s one-third of my rent,” said Jim Donnell, the owner ofEverything Jerseyon the boardwalk.

Donnelly and his employee, Mary Grossguth, were laying out all their merchandise as they spoke to NJ Advance Media. They traditionally begin to open around Easter, but today was the first time they were allowed to reopen.

New among there merchandise: homemade face masks.

Many of the stores were not open yet on the the boardwalk in Seaside Heights. Friday, May 22, 2020.

Patti Sapone | NJ Advance Media

Not every vendor has reopened yet. Several shops along the boardwalk had metal security Gates pulled down on Friday afternoon.

Polish Ice Wateralong the Seaside Heights boardwalk, however, lucked out and was still able to make sales even though the boardwalk has been closed since the end of March. Megan Pollaro, who owns the business with her husband, said her south end location was able to make sales for the last three weeks because they had a side counter where customers were able to access near the entrance of the boardwalk.

They also set up a website for curbside pickup to make up for sales they lost at their north end shop, which opened this week on the other side of the boardwalk.

“We’re down maybe 35%,” said Pollaro, adding that the weather hasn’t been cooperating either. “It was just slower than normal.”

The Seaside Heights boardwalk will be allowed to remain open until 11 p.m. starting Saturday, according to a posted sign. However, the beach will be cleared and closed at 5 p.m. between May 23 and June 30.

People purchase pizza from one of the pizza booths along the boardwalk in Seaside Heights. Friday, May 22, 2020.

Patti Sapone | NJ Advance Media

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Rebecca Panico may be reached atrpanico@njadvancemedia.com.Tell us your coronavirus story or send a tiphere.

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