Coronavirus concerns lead to boardwalk closures


SPRING LAKE — Spring Lake closed its boardwalk to the public Tuesday night in an effort to keep the community safe and limit the possible spread of the coronavirus.

In a borough council meeting held via conference call, officials acknowledged that the boardwalk attracted too many visitors looking to spend time outside, undermining increasingly restrictive state orders aimed at limiting social contact during the outbreak.

Similar bans have been imposed by Manasquan, Sea Girt, and Point Pleasant, while Belmar has opted for urging social distancing and minimal touching of railings and other surfaces along their boardwalks.

“It’s completely understandable why people would want to be walking up there with fresh air,” Mayor Jennifer Naughton said. “The concern is that it’s very difficult to do the required social distancing when you have hundreds of people walking the boardwalk at the same time.”

The Spring Lake mayor said she believes there will be a “significant reduction in visitors” if the boardwalk is closed to the public.

“There are a lot of visitors from out of town here — young people, older people — just coming our way to walk and it’s not the safest thing,” Councilman Robert Drasheff said. “I never thought I would want to close the boardwalk, but I think … we have no choice really.”

Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator Ed Hale said that Superintendent of the State Police Col. Patrick Callahan issued an order on Tuesday giving “municipalities the discretion to impose additional restrictions to local beaches and boardwalks.”

Spring Lake Police Chief Ed Kerr, who also serves as the Emergency Management Coordinator, said he agreed to closing the boardwalk after seeing the number of people walking there on Tuesday. 

“We’ll enforce what we have to enforce,” Chief Kerr added.

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