Coronavirus Short Term Cape May Outlook
The Freeholder said it. The mayor said it. The Governor of New Jersey said it. The mayors of Wildwood debated it. But the chorus sings in unison. Now is not the time to visit the Jersey shore. This is the coronavirus short term Cape May outlook.
On March 15th Congress Hall and the Mission Inn made the preemptive decision to shut down operations. Shortly after, the Cape May County Freeholders made the recommendation supporting that decision to other area non-essential businesses. Consequently, soon after the New Jersey Governor made it nearly a requirement for all non-essential businesses to close down.
Virtually every open in business in Cape May has shut their doors or drastically reduced operations. A handful of restaurants continue to offer curbside delivery. A ratcheted down version of takeout.
Pleading to second homeowners, government officials stopped short of commanding they remain at their primary residences. Now was not the time to visit Cape May to weather the imminent health crisis. Interestingly, many have described the coronavirus as a pending blizzard or noreaster that would cripple the area.
We pay taxes too
Plumbers reported an early surge in the requests to turn-on water service in seasonal homes. One plumber made a social media post that they would only enter empty homes. Second homeowners protested the restriction in Facebook groups. We pay taxes too they complained. City officials explained the stay at primary residence request was to prevent the potential burden on essential services during an offseason population surge.
The little ACME here in town struggles to serve on a good day. The residents at Victorian Towers and the housing authority buildings depend on the local ACME for provisions in the off-season. The ACME in North Cape May and the Shoprite in the Rio Grande location are at off-season staffing levels and most likely inventory.
The iconic Lobster House closed down takeout and dining operations but continues to provide fresh seafood in the market area.
The last thing Cape May needs is a flood of out of town license plates coming over the bridge making a traditional stop at the fish market or grocery store.
Many of us in hospitality are evaluating on a daily basis when we might resume or return to normal operations. Fortunately, a lot of us are still closed for the season. Startup dates are tentative and fluid at this point in time.
For any small motel or bed and breakfast operation to remain open during this time feels irresponsible and incredibly risky. Local, county and state leaders are advising people to remain where they are. Lodging establishments should not be inviting people to Cape May by advertising they are open.
Salvaging the season
Many of you are making great sacrifices. Many of you are out of jobs. If you are in business you have a fraction of the income you had ten days ago. Watching events unfold to our north and heeding the social distancing policies issued by officials is the only way to stem the tide of this pandemic–particularly into the southern part of the state.
“For us shutting down and remaining closed seemed like the only socially responsible action to take,” Wendy Collins, co-owner of the Mission Inn told me.
Inviting others to Cape May at this time, whether they be second homeowners or guests of a motel or bed and breakfast puts the rest of our season in jeopardy.
I consider myself a most welcoming and inviting person. It is not easy for me to tell you to stay home. It’s for your good. It’s for the good of our unopened businesses, and it is necessary for all of us to salvage the season.