The Seaside Heights beach and boardwalk, one of the few respites available to Shore residents otherwise holed up indoors due to concerns over the spread of coronavirus, will remain open for the time being.
“The boardwalk and the beach have not been closed,” said Borough Administrator Christopher Vaz during a meeting of the borough council via conference call Wednesday. “There has been no order from the state to close the beach and boardwalk, but of course the arcades are closed and there are different rules pertaining to restaurants and bars.”
Officials said people were enjoying the boardwalk in a safe way, a major factor in keeping the areas accessible.
“I’ve seen a lot of people walking; it looks like people are using a lot of social distancing while they’re walking, so at this point they remain open,” Vaz said.
There will be some changes given new realities. The borough normally begins charging for parking on April 1. Due to a combination of the local state of emergency in place as well as the fact that installation of a new kiosk-based parking meter system is not yet in place, parking fees are suspended until June 1.
The council also decided against opening the bathrooms along the boardwalk, a step that would normally be taken this time of year.
“It would take a large effort to sanitize them the way they need to be sanitized,” said Vaz. “From the prospective of manpower – also the details of having toilet paper, I don’t think it would take long for toilet paper to disappear – there are little things. But the big issue is having to sanitize them and keep them clean for the public.”
The borough reserved portable toilets in case it was decided there should be some restroom access, but the council likewise decided the healthiest move would be to decline to use them.
“It’s not my recommendation that you provide porta-johns,” said Borough Attorney Jean Cipriani. “Obviously, we’re mindful that it’s an inconvenience, but I don’t think the borough should be in the position to provide them. We would have the obligation to keep them clean to a certain level.”
Opening restrooms could also be seen as an advertisement for people to come to the boardwalk, which the borough is trying to avoid while keeping it open for local residents to enjoy.
“I think the whole point is that we’re not trying to bring people here,” said Councilman Richard Tompkins.
The borough’s annual Easter Egg Hunt and several other events planned for the season will likely be canceled when the Business Improvement District, which meets Thursday, formally decides. Activities are being canceled at least until May.
“As far as other events, a lot of it is ‘wait and see,'” Vaz said.