OCEAN CITY, N.J. (CBS) — A promise made is a promise kept. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said the beaches would be open by Memorial Day weekend, and they are. Despite a global pandemic, the crowds headed down the shore this holiday weekend, but the boardwalk doesn’t look the same as years past.
Despite some morning rain, it ended up being a beautiful start to the Memorial Day weekend.
“This time of the year, it’s always hit-and-miss with the weather,” Oves Restaurant owner Chris Oves said.
Consider Saturday’s weather a hit in Ocean City.
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Beachgoers were sunbathing, bicyclists rode and the boardwalk was filled with locals and tourists alike. These scenes are far from where business owners thought they’d be a few months ago.
“We were hopeful that the virus would have calmed down and things would’ve gotten back to normal, but obviously it didn’t and we’ll just have to adapt to it,” Oves said.
Scattered along the boardwalk are bottles of hand sanitizers, signs asking people to maintain social distancing and police officers making sure the rules are followed.
With Memorial Day weekend came relaxed rules on social distancing guidelines.
Murphy now says groups of up to 25 people are allowed outdoors. The threshold before was 10 people. For visitors going to Wildwood, it’s the first Memorial Day weekend since 1949 that the iconic tram cars aren’t in operation. They’re receiving a COVID-related tuneup.
Among the changes are new sneeze guards.
“We’re going to be sanitizing the tram cars twice an hour out on the boardwalk and we’re also introducing a new tram app for a completely cashless payment system,” North Wildwood Mayor Patrick Rosenello said, “so that you can download the app, buy your tickets and have a completely cashless transaction riding the tram car.”
Back in Ocean City, while the shops are only open for phone orders or takeout food, shop owners say they’re optimistic for the rest of the season.
“If you’re not optimistic, then you’re setting yourself up for mental failure,” Oves said. “So, we’ll make it. We’ll all survive it. We’ll talk about this in a couple years.”
And this beautiful Saturday is expected to be followed up with a better Sunday and Monday.