On the same day Ocean City officials closed the city’s beaches and Boardwalk, Atlantic City officials said they have no plans to follow suit.
Mayor Marty Small Sr. and Council President George Tibbitt both strongly dismissed the idea that the city would mimic beach towns such as Spring Lake or Point Pleasant Beach and close public areas to mitigate the spread of the new coronavirus.
“Absolutely not,” Small said. The mayor said people can still follow the guidelines from health officials for social distancing while using the beaches and Boardwalk.
“There’s no way in hell you can shut(down) that Boardwalk,” Tibbitt said Wednesday morning. “People have to have some type of relief, and that Boardwalk and beach are the best (ways) to stay by themselves, or jog, walk or ride a bike. Dumbest thing I ever heard was closing the boardwalks.”
Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian said he made the decision Wednesday with its senior population, a high risk category, in mind. Their well-being is of “the utmost importance,” he said.
“Even with all the directives already in place, it’s clear that not everybody is taking the order to shelter in place seriously,” Gillian said. “With the weather getting warmer, it will only get worse. I fully understand the impact that this will have on Ocean City, but I will always err on the side of caution.”
Seaside Heights has closed the beaches and bays to the public but, so far, has not restricted its Boardwalk. Asbury Park officials are reportedly considering prohibiting access to their Boardwalk to discourage out-of-towners from flocking there.
Gov. Phil Murphy issued an executive order Saturday that directed nearly all residents to stay at home, with limited exceptions. But, that same day, Murphy encouraged people to continue to get outside and maintain an active lifestyle, if possible.
“The governor’s executive order instructions were crystal clear,” Small said. “With the Boardwalk being a street in the City of Atlantic City, we plan to leave that open so our residents, during these trying times, can get some fresh air and take their mind off of some of the madness that’s going on in the world.”