Murphy: Expect ‘new normal’ at the Jersey Shore by Memorial Day weekend

A Jersey Shore beach scene.

File photo: A Jersey Shore beach scene. (Justin Auciello/WHYY)

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Tuesday that he expects “some semblance” of a new normal at the Jersey Shore by Memorial Day weekend, the traditional start to the summer season.

Murphy, who said Monday that the state would likely offer later this week some “hard dates” for a slow reopening, said the shore “is going to matter a lot.”

The governor said last week that he’d be shocked if beaches are not open but with specific guidelines. Those guidelines have not yet been released.

Murphy has said that limiting parking in state parks to 50% worked, hinting that a similar limitation could be part of guidance the state is expected to issue. State officials have consistently said that municipalities are empowered to decide whether to open or close beaches.

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At the state’s Tuesday briefing, a reporter asked Murphy a question about whether he expects the shore economy to take a hit during Memorial Day weekend. The governor responded that the state can take some steps to mitigate the economic hit that’s impacting the state.

“And as I mentioned the other day, it won’t be the old normal, but can we get some semblance of a new normal on the shore by the time Memorial Day weekend comes around? I’m going to say yes. But that’s not to say that we’re still not going to take an economic hit, that stuff still won’t be closed,” Murphy said.

Shore business owners are anxious to see whether state restrictions — including the ones over dine-in service for restaurants and retail — will be lifted in time for the summer season. Some municipalities have adopted emergency regulations to allow for expanded outdoor dining options.

Last week, Cape May County submitted a detailed reopening plan for state consideration that offers guidelines for rentals, hotels, motels, retail, restaurants, and more.

For his part, Murphy, who said Tuesday that his “heart is broken” over the economic pain the state is feeling, said his administration will continue to act with public health as the driver for the economy.

“We’re trying to take the steps as responsibly as we can to get back as fast as we can. But everyone’s taking a hit,” he said.

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State officials on Tuesday announced a plan to increase testing and begin contact tracing.

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