In the excitement surrounding Memorial Day, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has asked Pennsylvania residents to refrain from visiting beaches in nearby states as a potential risk for COVID-19. The request was made while other states are reopening their beaches despite worries that the coronavirus outbreak could surge again.
“I wouldn’t go to the beach,” Wolf said at a video news conference in response to a question about his concern about a rise in coronavirus cases in the Philadelphia region.
Wolf said he did not understand the reasons for opening the beaches under the current circumstances. “There are people there who aren’t wearing masks and you’re putting yourself at risk. I wouldn’t do that, I haven’t done that, and I’m not sure why the governors of Maryland and New Jersey have opened their beaches, but they have.”
Last week, Gov. Phil Murphy declared New Jersey’s beaches and lakefronts “open” for Memorial Day weekend
East Coast beaches will be open this weekend, though with social distancing guidance from state and local officials.
Philadelphia officials are also warning residents to not head down the shore.
During Monday’s COVID-19 briefing, Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said it would be too risky being in large crowds at the Jersey shore this weekend.
“Don’t go to the beach. We’re not recommending people go to the beach this weekend,” he said. “It is true that being outdoors is probably less risk than being close to people indoors, but if you go into crowds anywhere, there’s risks.”
Farley added that it is necessary to wait for a safer moment. “We understand the draw, it’s very tempting. You may have gone to the beach every Memorial Day weekend for years, but this is not the time to do that. Let’s wait until the case counts are lower for it to be safer.”
According to Mayor Jim Kenney, people who are planning to visit the Jersey Shore during the holiday weekend could contribute to the spread of the virus in the state.
“South Jersey does what South Jersey does. It’s going to affect us because people are going to go to the beach this weekend, they’re going to congregate with people in too close proximity, then they’re going to drive back home to Philadelphia and perhaps give the virus to somebody in their family,” he said.