OCEAN CITY, N.J. - Memorial Day weekend typically signals the unofficial start of summertime down at the Jersey shore, but this year things look radically different.
Instead of boardwalks and beaches jammed with locals and out-of-towners, the summertime hot spots are speckled with socially distanced clusters of people trying to enjoy the beach amid ever-changing circumstances.
"The stores aren't open, but there's still stuff to do down here," Garrett Chirak said. "Beaches are open, you can go in the water a little bit, doing some fishing this weekend."
Beachgoers in Ocean City on Saturday tried to make the best of the weekend, but most will tell you that they miss the normal holiday weekend rush to the shore.
"I like coming out with the big crowds," Frank McGuigan said. "We enjoy coming down when everyone is down here."
Crowds or no crowds, Memorial Day at the Jersey shore almost didn't happen at all. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order just two weeks ago which allowed the beaches and boardwalks to reopen with restrictions on Friday.
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The Murphy administration even extended the limit on outdoor social gatherings from 10 people to 25 people while following mitigation protocols. It's all a delicate balance of trying to safely return to a semblance of normalcy amid an unprecedented health crisis.
"You have to make the best of it, and so what we're trying to do is be positive during this unfortunate time," Jon Weiss said. "A lot of people are out of work and don't have money and their stress level is getting higher and higher, so I think it's important to stay positive."
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