OCEAN CITY, N.J. (CBS) – Vacationers down the shore are getting their last day of fun this Memorial Day weekend. But the COVID-19 outbreak has made some noticeable changes to the unofficial start of summer.
The Wildwood boardwalk still attracted vacationers this Memorial Day weekend, but it definitely was not the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds of years past. People tried to keep a safe distance from one another and many wore masks.
“It’s a little hard to eat through your mask but we can make do,” Rick Watson of Hammonton said.
Speaking of eating, it was take out only on the shore. Employees of Hot Spot Pizza say holiday weekend business was down some 90%.
“Last year we were up till 3 in the morning. We were closed by 10 this year,” Mike Kelly of Hot Spot Pizza said.
#MDW2020: Weather & #COVID19 concerns led to smaller crowds at the Jersey Shore. One #Wildwood pizzeria says business was down 90% compared to Memorial Day last year. Here’s a look at some not-so-ideal conditions this morning from #OceanCity #NJ https://t.co/ZypLQAHQVN pic.twitter.com/WHFteesx3G
— Trang Do (@TrangDoCBS3) May 25, 2020
Souvenir shops took a hit too, as customers could only shop from the outside. Some didn’t bother to open up at all, shocking on a weekend considered to be the kickoff to the summer season.
Another unusual sight, the iconic Wildwood Tram Cars were not running for the first Memorial Day weekend since 1949. COVID-19 forced some changes, including new sneezeguards and contactless ticketing.
“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 so that you can download the app, buy your tickets,” North Wildwood Mayor Patrick Rosenello said.
Wildwood Crest Mayor Don Cabrera is hoping, in due time with new safety measures in place, the shore will look more like itself once again.
“I think it’s all coming but everyone just needs to be patient, realize what we’re trying to accomplish,” Cabrera said.
Business owners say they hope crowds pick up again once shore rentals are allowed to resume on June 1.