Murphy: I’d be ‘shocked’ if N.J. beaches are not open by Memorial Day

South Seaside Park

A beach entrance in South Seaside Park. (Justin Auciello/WHYY)

Gov. Phil Murphy said Thursday evening that he expects New Jersey beaches to be open by Memorial Day weekend, the traditional start to the summer season.

“I will be shocked if our beaches are not open, but with very specific guidance just as we opened county and state parks,” Murphy said during an NJTV livestream. Many municipalities have already reopened beaches, and Island Beach State Park opened last weekend.

On Monday, the governor said the state will be issuing guidance to shore towns on how to manage beaches amid the pandemic, and he reiterated that on Thursday. He said that working with beach communities and counties has “been great.”

Murphy 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. The Murphy administration has consistently said that municipalities are empowered to decide whether to open or close beaches.

“That may well be smart as communities think about how many day tickets or monthly passes they’re going to sell. Maybe there’s something on the capacity side that speaks to that, but bear with us on that,” he said on Monday.

Murphy made it clear during the NJTV interview that the guidance will include personal responsibility.

“Don’t be a knucklehead, stay away from each other, don’t congregate,” he said.

During a Friday appearance on MSNBC, Murphy said that small business guidance is also forthcoming.

“I have nothing but sympathy for them right now,” the governor said, adding that some specific guidance might include curbside pick-up for retail businesses.

Murphy noted that polling indicates that an “overwhelming majority” of people don’t have the confidence to resume their normal lives. “Here is the reality: Public health creates economic health,” he said.

The governor said that the federal government needs to issue another “huge stimulus” to aid the state’s economy.

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