Seaside Heights, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, eliminated cash as a payment option for daily beach badges this season, but the legacy form of payment may be revived with the help of some boardwalk businesses.
Seaside Heights is using the Viply app, which has grown popular with Shore communities, to sell daily badges this summer. Beachgoers purchase they badges through the app, then collect them at the beach entrance with no cash exchanged. The practice allows for a safer form of payment to prevent the transmission of the virus, and also cuts down on the number of seasonal employees the borough must hire during a time of financial uncertainty. During most seasons, beach control employees sell badges while checkers ensure visitors have them on.
Responding to some complaints about a lack of a cash system, the borough may partner with boardwalk businesses to be the point of purchase for badge sales. The businesses will buy badges in bulk and will post signs stating that badges can be purchased inside. Officials say it’s a way to draw customers into boardwalk stores that are willing to accept cash while also saving the town the expense of hiring employees to handle cash and act as cashiers.
“We are hearing from the public as well as businesses that we should be taking cash at our beach operations,” said Mayor Anthony Vaz, adding that the stores will purchase their badges at the regular price and sell them at the regular price set by borough ordinance – no profit will be taken on any badge sales.
Vaz said one business owner proposed the idea, and others are interested as well.
“If we make this kind of program available, we will have to make it available to all businesses,” said Borough Attorney Jean Cipriani.
Christopher Vaz, the borough administrator, endorsed the plan, saying the more businesses that participate, the better. Officials believe it can bring foot traffic into merchants’ storefronts while giving beachgoers a cash option.
“Personally, I think it’s a super, super smart idea,” Christopher Vaz said. “I think we can make it efficient, make it work, and it will solve our problem of having to hire people.”
Officials say the beach budget was cut by about 50 percent this year due to uncertainty as to how many people will visit the resort in light of the virus, whether beach access will be limited and whether a spike in cases could lead to a future closure by the state.
The coronavirus pandemic has also led to some new regulations on the use of the beach and boardwalk this year. Beach patrol employees clear the beaches between 7 and 7:30 p.m. and lock the access gates. The boardwalk is cleared between 11 p.m. and 12 a.m.
“We’re planning to be doing that, probably, for the rest of the season,” Christopher Vaz said.
The borough has also installed a number of security cameras to monitor crowds. There are four mounted on mobile towers along the oceanfront and an additional camera mounted at the bay beach off Route 35.
Coolers are allowed on the beach this summer, but employees at beach entrances will be asking to ensure there are no glass bottles or alcoholic beverages inside. The borough says it is greatly cracking down on drinking on the beach and boardwalk this season.