As Life Turns Green, Can I Go To The Shore?

With New Jersey and Pennsylvania rolling back their COVID-19 restrictions, many of us are tempted to hit the shore for a change of scenery. Travel is not advised, but there are recommendations to make it safer.

By Wendi Rank

I’m not a shore person. But the weather is getting hotter. Local pools are closed. I’m thinking about the beach.

Am I allowed to swim? Can I get boardwalk fries? How bad of a person am I?

Our best bet is to stay put, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Even though Pennsylvania and New Jersey’s departments of health are reporting decreased cases for June, both states have some of the highest total cases in the country.

You’re thinking shore-haters like me can’t be trusted, but don’t walk away yet.

If we’re determined to travel, the CDC asks us to consider a few things. Is COVID-19 spreading where we live or where we’re headed? Will our travels expose someone who is high risk?

Nick Wardle, press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Health, tells the Philadelphia Inquirer we should also think about how much we can control. Travel by car, for example, is an environment we can control more than travel by plane.

As a nurse, I’ve decided to stay home. But this guidance should be used to keep everyone – you, vendors, even New Yorkers – safer if you decide to go.

I love New Yorkers. Just so you can really hate me.

Know the rules where you’re going. New Jersey has a dedicated website for COVID-19 information, and shore towns have COVID-19 pages on their websites.

Stock up on everything you need before you go. Your goal is to limit stops along the way and once you arrive. Keep hand sanitizer, hand soap, and wipes where you can reach them.

It would be best to drive without stopping, but kids often have different agendas. Use hand sanitizer before and after your bathroom break. Wipe down changing tables, doorknobs, and toilets before and after use.

Need gas? Wear your mask and use contactless payment. Use hand sanitizer before and after paying if you can’t go contactless.

Once at your lodgings, run a wipe over commonly touched areas, like light switches and remotes. Leave the family in the car while you do it and wash your hands afterward. Follow CDC rules anytime you leave your house or hotel room.

Let’s talk about the beach. Wearing a mask while swimming is discouraged, so keep six feet away and cover coughs and sneezes while you swim. Wear your mask when you’re not in the water.

Just remember your sunscreen because that is a ridiculous tan.

Hitting the boardwalk? You’ll still need your mask. Exemptions include children under 2 and those with certain medical conditions. Use contactless payment or hand sanitizer before and after paying for food. Maintain six feet of distance while eating.

Unlike me, my kids love the shore. But they’re the hardest part of sticking to CDC rules. Let kids know what to expect, and that violating the rules may mean you’ll be asked to leave.

Using precautions can make everyone safer. Even a shore-hater like me.

But don’t let that deter you.


Wendi Rank is a Montgomery County native with a graduate degree from LaSalle University. She has worked as a registered nurse and nurse practitioner in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. She has previously written for the journal Nursing.