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Pa. officials to residents: Don’t go to the Jersey Shore this weekend

Beach in Ocean City, New Jersey

Ocean City Beach Patrol keeps watch from the tower. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

With Memorial Day 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 advising residents to not head down the shore.

Dr. Thomas Farley, the city’s health commissioner, said on Monday that crowds are risky.

“Don’t go to the beach. We’re not recommending people go to the beach this weekend,” he 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.”

Farley said to wait until case counts are lower.

Mayor Jim Kenney added that city residents who visit the Jersey Shore during the holiday weekend could put others at risk upon their return.

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“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,” he said.

Last week, Gov. Phil Murphy declared New Jersey’s beaches and lakefronts “open” for Memorial Day weekend, although visitors will have to abide by a lengthy list of restrictions. While municipalities will have to follow state restrictions, general beach and boardwalk operations are at local discretion.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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