Beachgoers at three popular Jersey Shore spots will be able to get vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus over the Memorial Day weekend.
Gov. Phil Murphy on Friday announced the “Shots At The Shore” campaign that will offer free vaccinations Saturday and Sunday at Sandy Hook, Long Branch and Asbury Park.
The announcement came on the day that New Jersey dropped its indoor mask mandate, which Murphy called “one of the biggest steps we can take to move forward with our recovery.”
“We're going to make it possible for beachgoers to get some sun and at the same time get their first shot,” the Democratic governor said.
(As of Friday afternoon, the weather forecast for the Jersey Shore called for an 80% chance of rain both days.)
The pop-up vaccination sites will operate from 9 a.m to 3 p.m. both days.
In Sandy Hook, it will take place in a drive-through tent in parking lot E. In Asbury Park, it will take place inside the Grand Arcade, and in Long Branch, it will take place at the Pier Village gazebo.
All three vaccines approved for use in the U.S. will be available at each site, the governor said. Murphy said more than 4 million New Jerseyans are fully vaccinated against the virus.
Friday morning, New Jersey's indoor mask requirement ended. Among the early arrivers for an afternoon of horse racing at Freehold Raceway, about 20% were wearing masks.
Bill Varley of the Forked River section of Lacey Township was not wearing a mask, having gotten both his shots in February.
“I really don't have any apprehension about not wearing a mask,” he said as he and some friends perused the odds for the upcoming first race. “People that aren't vaccinated may want to wear a mask for their own protection, but that's up to them.”
Atlantic City's nine casinos celebrated the end of the mask mandate as well. As of Friday, all slot machines and table games will be available for use; many casinos disabled every second machine to create distance between slot players since the casinos reopened last July.
Polycarbonate dividers between slot and table games players were coming down Friday as well as indoor distancing requirements also ended.
“Today marks a historic moment in Atlantic City’s recovery from this unprecedented pandemic,” said Terry Glebocki, president of the Casino Association of New Jersey. "Atlantic City casinos are operating at 100% occupancy, all table games and slot machines are open, eating and drinking restrictions are lifted and fully vaccinated guests are no longer required to wear masks.
“Atlantic City will once again be able to offer our guests the exciting, first-class experience they were accustomed to prior to the pandemic, and we are thrilled to give it to them,” she said. "We have been preparing for this day for over a year, and we are proud to say Atlantic City is back and open for business.”