Now it Looks Like A June Opening. Maybe.

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Cape May, NJ – If you were all set to ignore the Governors’ stay-at-home orders (in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York) and meander down to the shore for Memorial Day – forget about it.

Hotels and vacation rentals are closed until June 1, at the earliest.

That’s the date set by Cape May County in a 35-page reopening plan it’s pitching to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.

Both short-term vacation rentals (under 30 days) and hotels (at 60% occupancy) will open June 1, according to the county. Hotels won’t operate at full capacity until June 22.

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What’s not clear – where thousands of out-of-town hotel guests in June will eat and buy tee shirts.

A county spokesperson says local governments can control the open dates for rentals and hotels, but not for other businesses.

The governor’s COVID-19 executive order in April closed restaurants and nonessential businesses to keep the contagious virus from spreading.

Restaurant Reopening Proposal

In its reopening proposal, Cape May County is asking that restaurants be allowed to serve guests outdoors starting May 26th and indoors starting June 1. Dining tables would be spaced further apart.

Right now restaurants can offer only take-out and delivery service.

Nonessential Businesses

The plan suggests retail businesses follow the take-out model and sell items for curbside pickup beginning May 11. All businesses would open to the public on June 1, under the plan.

The proposal has to be okayed by the state. It’s not clear how that would affect the current stay-at-home order.

The County plan is an attempt to breathe life into the summer season, in the midst of the deadly coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 has killed more than nine thousand people in the state, thirty-two so far in Cape May County.

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In an interview on NJTV, Governor Murphy indicated he was open to increased outdoor activities and some retail business changes.

“We’re not there yet for full-bore opening of nonessential retail,” the Governor said, “But could I see sooner than later opening for curbside pickup, just as we’re doing with food? I could see that.”

Beaches Opening

State and county parks and local beaches have started to welcome visitors once more.

Cape May reopened its beach this past weekend for walking, jogging, fishing and surfing. Social distancing was the watchword. Other shore towns – Wildwood, Avalon and Stone Harbor – open their beaches this weekend.

At the same time, Avalon cancelled its Memorial Day parade and Wildwood cancelled its annual Kite Festival. Cape May postponed its annual spring music festival.

With hotels and rentals shut at least until June, it will be a quiet Memorial Day weekend.

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About Jane Kashlak

Jane Kashlak - a journalist, gardener and Cape Island resident - is writing a book.