How this Jersey Shore summer will be different than the last
Business and foot traffic was understandably down in 2020 due to the pandemic but with restrictions starting to loosen up as people get vaccinated, this summer could be much closer to what we saw in 2019.
That would be music to the ears of people heading anywhere across the Jersey Shore for a day at the beach and boardwalk.
In an effort to prevent possible spread of the coronavirus in 2020, City of Asbury Park officials followed closely along with CDC guidelines to establish protocols like social distancing and wearing masks and following state executive orders on crowd limits.
It led to cutting the amount of daily beach badges down to 200 in the beginning and raising the amount to between 3,000 and 4,000 per day by the end of the summer on a beach, that in normal times, could see about 20,000 people on a busy day or weekend but they were capping it at no more than 10,000 people.
In 2021, the amount of people on the beach will be slightly higher as city officials hope to make up some of the revenue loss they suffered in 2020.
"Safety is our number one concern but we are looking to increase what we had last year so we feel like we could go higher than 10,000 and lower than 20,000," Quinn said. "Because we allowed so few people on the beach last year, our beach utilities took a major hit."
Right now, seasonal beach badges are still on sale as will be daily beach badges and you can purchase those and get updates on what's available through the Asbury Park viply app.
When you do head to the beach, Quinn asks that you respect the social distancing and mask wearing protocols in place to help keep everyone safe.
"I think people have been cooped up, I believe they are going to probably and likely come out and we're just asking that they really be respectful, the pandemic is still going on and we still need to follow the guidelines from the CDC," Quinn said.
They will be bringing back water fountains as well in Asbury Park this summer as well as non-touch showers and some new lockers set up.
In addition, Quinn says they will also have their ambassador program in place this summer, "which is Asbury Park high school students walking the boardwalk and giving out hand sanitizer and masks and telling people how to use the parking meters and showing people where to park."
With the ongoing worker shortage for many communities and businesses, Quinn also asks that you have some patience when going out to the beach, boardwalk, retail stores and restaurants.
"Last year, I'll be honest, we had people coming down and I understand their frustration that they came down, packed up their families and food and then couldn't get a badge and those people screamed at our staff, which didn't get you a badge, that didn't help," Quinn said. "So we're asking for kindness to beach staff who are not only giving out beach badges but monitoring and making sure that people are spaced apart on the beach and that we don't have too many people on one avenue, and to our restaurant staff. Asbury Park like every other town in the state is experiencing a hiring shortage and so when you're waiting an hour to get into Langosta Lounge or Brickwall Tavern or Watermark, when you're waiting to get into some of these places...(we ask) that you just be really kind and understand the fact that they are putting people into their restaurants based on the amount of staffing they have and there's a staffing shortage."
(You can hear more from Seaside Heights Mayor Tony Vaz and Asbury Park Deputy Mayor Amy Quinn this coming Sunday on Jersey Shore Journal which airs at 6:00 am on 92.7 WOBM, 94.3ThePoint, 105.7TheHawk and Beach 104.1 FM and/or on our radio station apps!)
Seaside Heights Mayor Tony Vaz echoes a similar request for patience and respect at stores and restaurants.
"We know our tourists are our main people, we have to be courteous but we also have to be honest and say to them 'we may be a little slower tonight, we lack the help, please be patient with us', it's the nature of the economy right now," Vaz said.
In an effort to try and add more staffing to restaurants and businesses this summer, Vaz explains they're working on ways to encourage people to take jobs.
"For some people, they're making more now not working than when they were working so we have to be conscientious of the fact that we have to have some kind of plan in place to hire people both in the private sector and in the community, we may have to pay them more money, we may have to have an incentive at the end of the season to give them bonuses," Vaz said.
When you do come to Seaside Heights this summer, you'll notice some changes to houses, streets, businesses, the boardwalk and just the overall way of life as borough officials continue their mission of making this a family-friendly destination for kids and adults of all ages while working to put an end to the party atmosphere and image.
"We've changed our image in the last 4-5 years, we've put ordinances in place that stop unruly houses with retro and age restrictions on who can rent at what age and responsibilities of the renter as well as the homeowner who can be penalized if the police are called three times or more with a fine or pulling their license" Vaz said.
With a polished image, Vaz believes more people will start coming back this summer.
"I can walk up and down this boardwalk and the boulevard and see new businesses which bring in a new kind of revenue, not only to the taxation process, but a new kind of revenue to the public," Vaz said. "There are going to be different types of restaurants with a variety of different types of foods, there's going to be more amusement rides at Casino Pier and we're looking at this as progress."
You can hear more from Seaside Heights Mayor Tony Vaz and Asbury Park Deputy Mayor Amy Quinn this coming Sunday on Jersey Shore Journal which airs at 6:00 am on 92.7 WOBM, 94.3ThePoint, 105.7TheHawk and Beach 104.1 FM and/or on our radio station apps!