BELMAR, NJ — The Belmar boardwalk reopened on May 8 to walkers and joggers. Bicycles, skateboards, scooters or dogs are not permitted at any time.
Paid parking on the east side of the Ocean Avenue is now in effect through the ParkMobile app or by phone. In addition, the residents-only parking is no longer in effect.
Earlier in the week, Belmar public works employees and lifeguards removed nearly 200 benches from the boardwalk to prevent people from gathering.
While the beach has remained open, borough officials are moving forward to get the entire oceanfront ready for the Memorial Day weekend — with social distancing measures in place to ensure the safety of residents, employees and visitors during the coronavirus outbreak.
While these plans were discussed at the borough council’s May 5 meeting, Belmar and other beach communities have not yet received any official direction from the Murphy administration on how to proceed, particularly since a statewide stay-at-home order remains in effect and nonessential businesses remain shuttered.
“This situation changes hour by hour, day by day. And we continue to wait for orders and information from the governor’s office,” said Borough Administrator Edward Kirschenbaum. “It’s impossible to stop the influx of people to the Jersey Shore.”
Meanwhile, Gov. Phil Murphy said at his May 8 press briefing that he expects Jersey Shore beach towns to open for Memorial Day weekend, as long as the state's coronavirus numbers continue to improve.
In addition to establishing its own task force to drive the effort, Belmar has also been part of a countywide initiative that involves ongoing talks with officials in other beachfront communities — from Sea Bright to Manasquan — and well as County Freeholder Director Thomas Arnone.
And that cooperation among towns up and down the Monmouth coast is critical, according to Belmar Mayor Mark Walsifer. “We all need to open together and have all the social distancing in place,” he said.
For Belmar, maintaining social distancing will be its main mission this summer — with police patrols and even drones monitoring the situation along the 1.3-mile beachfront. Signage detailing the social distancing rules will be placed at every ticket booth. And beachfront employees will be provided with personal protective gear to keep them safe, officials said.
“If we can’t be social distant, the beaches will be shut down,” Walsifer said. “We will play it by ear because we don’t know what Memorial Day will look like.”
While nonessential businesses remain closed, state and county parks and golf courses were given the go-ahead to reopen.
Below is the video of the borough council's May 5 meeting:
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