By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY
VENTNOR – It was a hard decision to make but the Board of Commissioners has closed the Ventnor boardwalk and beach, effective noon, Thursday, April 3.
“A week ago, we the commissioners said we didn’t want to close the boardwalk because we felt people needed a place to exercise. We felt it would be good for them mentally, physically and emotionally,” Mayor Beth Holtzman said. “But people are not following the governor’s executive order regarding social distancing.”
Residents have complained on Facebook that there are too many people congregating on the boardwalk and walking in groups, and not honoring the 6-foot rule.
The city erected blockades at Jackson Avenue and at the end of the boardwalk near the Margate border near Fredericksburg Avenue. Police will be stationed on the boardwalk to enforce the commission’s executive order.
“This includes any and all ramps, pavilions, steps and walkways leading to and from the beach and boardwalk as well as the entire fishing pier,” the executive order states.
Beach vehicle access permits are no longer valid for use on the beach and surfers are barred from entering the beach.
Anyone found to be in violation will be issued a summons and face fines up to $1,000 and six months in jail.
Holtzman said she has heard from local residents concerned about the vast number of out-of-state license plates parked around the community.
“The governors of New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey have all enacted travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders and to only venture out of your house unless there is an essential need, such as food and medicine or to obtain medical treatment,” she said. “Gov. Phil Murphy pleaded with second-homeowners to shelter in their primary residences. The key is that people everywhere, not just in Ventnor, need to stop moving around.”
Ventnor had two confirmed coronavirus cases as of Wednesday afternoon, and on Thursday, Atlantic County reported its first death from COVID-19.
“We all cannot do the things we would like to do. I can’t go out and get my nails done or get a haircut. We all need to make sacrifices to prevent other people from becoming exposed,” Holtzman said. “We have to keep everyone safe.”
Commissioner of Public Safety Tim Kriebel said the decision to close the boardwalk and beach was not taken lightly, and not without debate.
“Our goal is to avoid any further spread of this life-threatening virus before it happens. With the apex predicted, local cases on the rise, and spring around the corner the potential harm to those most at risk is too high not to take acton,” he explained on his Facebook page.
City of Ventnor Executive Order 01 of 2020
Effective April 3rd, 2020 at 12:00 Noon until further notice Due to the Covid-19 outbreak and the necessity for complete Social Distancing, the City of Ventnor is closing its boardwalk and beaches until further notice to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The entire length of the municipal boardwalk from Jackson Avenue to Fredericksburg Avenue and the entire length of the municipal beach (from the border of Atlantic City to the border of Margate City) shall be closed to any public use until further notice. This includes any and all ramps, pavilions, steps and walkways leading to and from the beach and boardwalk as well as the entire fishing pier. All 4×4 Vehicle Beach Permits are no longer valid for use on the beach as well. Those found to be in violation of this Executive Order will be issued a summons and face fines up to $1000.00 and 6 months in jail. (NJSA App.A:9-49)
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