WILDWOOD, N.J. - It may be quiet in Wildwood right now. But, as Memorial Day gets closer – and with the nice weather expected this weekend – many people will be thinking of heading down the shore.
As of now, there is still a stay-at-home order in place. Only essential businesses are open. And beaches are still closed, with the exception of exercise.
So, what does this all mean for the summer season?
Wildwood Mayor Pete Byron joined "Good Day Philadelphia" Friday morning to discuss.
Asked about Gov. Phil Murphy's stay-at-home order, Byron said, "Well, we're certainly not going to go against the governor. You know, we're not encouraging folks to come. But … as the weather gets nicer, the people are going to come down. So, we're just telling people, if you're gonna come down, you just need to listen to the health officials and practice all of the safe distancing that's been explained to you already."
As for those essential business that are open right now on the boardwalk offering take-out food, for example, Byron said you can go and get your slice of pizza or whatever it is you're looking for, then you're "encouraged to get off the boardwalk."
"You can expect there's going to be some crowds, especially since people have been – they're stir-crazy right now," the mayor said. "You know, people have to take some personal responsibility here, as well. And I think that the boardwalk merchants that are going to be open, they're going to have folks out there also kind of pointing out to people you need to stay within a safe distance."
One North Wildwood motel, The Sandpiper, has already announced plans to remain closed for the summer season. Byron said he thinks that's "unfortunate."
"I think they jumped the gun a little bit," he said. "I don't foresee too many businesses not opening for the summer. I think that we don't know. I mean, it just keeps changing. In a perfect world, we'll be open in some capacity by Memorial Day. I don't know that it'll be 100 percent, but we're hoping that we can work towards that, maybe by mid-June."
Municipal leaders up the coast probably average three to four conference calls a day. It seems like they get new information from the governor every 15 minutes, but he said they're not getting any inside information.
Right now on the Wildwood beach, Byron said, "you can do everything but sit on a chair and a blanket." He foresees, hopefully, sometime before Memorial Day they will be opening up the beaches for that, though.
And they hope to be able to open up the boardwalk to walk by then, although local officials don't have the power to open up non-essential businesses.
In some states, when restrictions have been loosened a little, people have flooded beaches as the weather turns nice.
"I don't foresee crowds like that," Byron said. "And we're pretty blessed in the Wildwoods, our beaches are so huge that, even if this was a typical Memorial Day weekend, it would be very easy to practice social distancing."
Despite the situation, the mayor has a sunny outlook on the summer: "You know what? I think at the end of the day, I think it's going to be a great summer. I truly think it is. … People are ready. I think people have been educated enough that they're going to practice the social distancing and all that other kind of good stuff that they've been encouraged to do with the mask and the gloves and things like that. What we lose in the beginning of the summer I truly believe we will make up at the end of the summer. It will make for a better September and October."