The Jersey Shore’s summer tourism industry normally would be busy now hiring students, stocking up on inventory and booking reservations from visitors weary of the long winter.
But as the region reels from the coronavirus, business owners are beginning to envision a season that, in one of its best cases, includes visitors lounging on the beach at least 6 feet apart from each other.
“We’re going to encourage masks,” said Daniela Barbacini, co-owner of Lucky Leo’s Sweet Shop on the Seaside Heights boardwalk.
With the region virtually locked down to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the Shore’s business owners and government leaders are beginning to envision how to salvage the summer tourism season.
For now, some seasonal business owners say they are moving forward with their plans, turning the utilities on, keeping in touch with returning employees and sprucing up the facade of their buildings.
But Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer, is getting closer. The number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise. And social distancing — kryptonite to the tourism industry dependent on big crowds — remains the only defense for now.
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