Yikes! Am I really hearing that some area legislators and officials are lobbying to open the casinos and shore towns by Memorial Day? What a deadly idea! As I write this, New Jersey, and certainly the southern counties, have not yet hit the peak of the COVID-19 curve. According to the science and what history is screaming at us, we need to have a curve that’s been flattening for at least two weeks, before we even begin the process of reopening. Take a look at Governor Murphy’s Road Map to Recovery in our Community Update on page 6. We need to get to Principle 5 and we are still working on the first four principles.
Stockton University finance professor Michael Busler, in a recent Press of Atlantic City article, alleges that waiting even a week beyond Memorial Day (which is early this year, on May 25) to open Atlantic and Cape May counties would be “devastating” to casinos and small businesses.
With all due respect, Prof, what about people’s lives? We’re talking about letting tourists from other areas of the state and surrounding states flock to our beaches and fill our hotels less than three weeks from now. Shore towns wanted to block New Yorkers and Philadelphians from coming to their summer beach homes a few weeks ago, so why would we welcome visitors now?
The peak of the curve in southern New Jersey is projected for May 11, just four days before May 15, which is when Busler would like to see resort businesses and casinos “ramp back up” for the Memorial Day weekend. He’s banking on higher temperatures killing the virus, but what we’ve seen in warmer areas of the world do not uphold that hope.
I can foresee a scenario where we’d open too soon only to have to close down summer at the height of our season. Isn’t it wiser to wait until closer to the July 4th holiday and have a better shot at a solid two-month Jersey Shore summer? Schools, as we now know them, will have let out by July, the curve will likely have flattened, and by then, we will know how other areas have fared with reopening sooner rather than later. September could be our June if we want to extend our summer season of amusement rides and Boardwalk strolls and fireworks past Labor Day.
We’ve already missed several celebrations and marking them in the manner to which we’re accustomed—starting with St. Patrick’s Day parades, Easter and our religious observances, Earth Day, Cinco de Mayo and right on through to Mother’s Day this weekend. And let’s think about what Memorial Day really means; it was never meant to be a celebratory kickoff to summer.
According to military.com, Memorial Day was “first established as Decoration Day after the Civil War” as a holiday “set aside for families and friends to visit and decorate the graves of troops lost in the conflict. As time went on, the observance instead became known as Memorial Day, until 1971, when Congress declared it an official holiday set to fall annually on the last Monday in May.… While Veterans Day, November 11, is a day set aside to celebrate all veterans, Memorial Day is a somber holiday dedicated to honor military fallen, with a special focus on those killed during military service or through enemy contact… many in the military community believe that at least a portion of it should be spent to mourn and honor the fallen.”
I’m not suggesting we have large gatherings or a parade (this year), but when was the last time you spent a Memorial Day contemplating its real meaning? More likely, it’s meant the first summer barbeque, a long weekend off work or school, shopping the Memorial Day sales. And if we open up for Memorial Day, then what about our June holidays? We then cannot deny ourselves Father’s Day celebrations, graduation parties, and the like. I say better safe than sorry and see you at the Jersey Shore in July.
Be well and keep the faith.
Source of graphic: NJ Dept. of Health