HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS/AP) — With the Memorial Day holiday weekend approaching, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday questioned the wisdom of beach-going, even as governors in other states reopen their beaches despite worries that the coronavirus outbreak could surge again. Beaches up and down the East Coast will be open this weekend, albeit with social-distance guidance coming from state and local officials.
Wolf, however, has taken a dim view of beach-going while the virus is spreading.
“I wouldn’t go to the beach,” Wolf said at a video news conference in response to a question about whether he was concerned that beach-going would create a rise in coronavirus cases in the Philadelphia region. “There are people there who aren’t wearing masks and you’re putting yourself at risk. I wouldn’t do that, I haven’t done that, and I’m not sure why the governors of Maryland and New Jersey have opened their beaches, but they have.”
Philadelphia officials are also warning residents to stay away from the Jersey Shore. During Monday’s briefing, Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley says it would be risky being in large crowds.
“Don’t go to the beach. We’re not recommending people go to the beach this weekend,” Farley said. “It is true that being outdoors is probably less risk than being close to people indoors, but if you go into crowds anywhere, there’s risks.”
Mayor Jim Kenney is concerned that residents who do go to the Jersey Shore this weekend could bring the virus back.
“South Jersey does what South Jersey does. It’s going to affect us because people are going to go to the beach this weekend, they’re going to congregate with people in too close proximity, then they’re going to drive back home to Philadelphia and perhaps give the virus to somebody in their family,” Kenney said.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy will let individual shore towns decide whether to reopen beaches. His guidance directed them to set occupancy limits, require 6 feet of space between beachgoers, except family members or couples, and prohibit groups of 10 or more from congregating on the beach.
Wildwood Mayor Pete Byron said he’s not actively encouraging out-of-staters to come down the shore this weekend but understands many plan to.
“The forecast isn’t so great and frankly, even if it was, there isn’t as many activities for the people to take advantage of as a typical Memorial Day weekend,” Byron said. “Really if you are going to come to the shore this weekend, you’ve got the beach if the weather is nice and the boardwalk is nothing more than a place to walk or grab a slice of pizza.”
CBS3 reached out to Murphy’s office and was told that there are no restrictions for out-of-state visitors at the state’s beaches, boardwalks or lakes.
In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan reopened state beaches for walking and exercise, but cautioned that it is critical to continue to follow public health guidance, practice social distancing and stay safe. He also let shore towns decide whether to reopen beaches and the resort town of Ocean City, Maryland, reopened to the general public with social distancing and gathering limitations in place and lifeguards on duty for swimming.
Meanwhile, in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced beaches would be allowed to open in time for the Memorial Day weekend, as did Delaware Gov. John Carney.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)