If you were thinking of socially distancing yourself to the Jersey Shore during the COVID-19 outbreak, the locals ask you to reconsider.

Seaside Heights Police Chief Tommy Boyd said it's best to stay close to home, although the beach and boardwalk are open for now.

"It's never good to leave from your home area where your doctor is. You can get your prescriptions where the pharmacist knows you," Boyd said. "I think the safest place would be at you home base until at least the end of this month."

Long Beach Township Commissioner James Lattanzi, who notes in his letter to residents and property owners that he is the former president of Southern Ocean Medical Center, said local officials were "strongly recommending" that people with second homes in the township stay where they primarily live.

"Furthermore, the local health care and other emergency services are not equipped to handle a mass influx of demand which will likely overwhelm the system," Lattanzi says.

In an earlier message on Friday, the township said that property owners are not restricted from coming to their property.

The mayors of the Wildwoods had to knock down rumors that the bridges to their resort towns would be closed to non-residents but the officials discouraged travel, nevertheless.

"The four mayors agree that this is not the time to travel per federal and state guidelines," Wildwood Mayor Pete Bryon said in a written statement. He called for "common sense and compassion" and asked people to hold off visiting until the COVID-19 crisis passes.

Closing the bridges was one idea that came up during a discussion among all the mayors about protecting permanent residents.

He said that an uptick in visitors is putting a strain on the supply chain for retailers that are stocked for winter, not the busy summer months.

It's not just the Jersey Shore that's trying to keep the part-time residents away. A New York Post columnist this week cheekily reported that "all-out class warfare" has erupted in the Hamptons, where year-round residents are infuriated with wealthy New Yorkers seeking refuge in the far reaches of Long Island.

“We should blow up the bridges. Don’t let them in,” one permanent resident of Montauk was quoted as saying.  

Some second-home owners were not pleased with the position that the Jersey Shore officials are taking .

"What a ridiculous and arrogant position to take," one person said in a comment left on Lonf Beach Township's page on Facebook. "People who own second homes on LBI have just as much right to use their properties as the 'real' residents of the island ... As for calling vacation home owners 'bennies' or 'Shoobies'  — I'd say the real bennies are the local residents who benefit from us paying full property taxes while not getting the benefit of the school system and basically only using local services (like garbage collection) for 3 months out of the year."

In Seaside Heights, Boyd said the boardwalk Friday, when temperatures climbed as high as 80 by late afternoon.

"Everyone was doing social distancing. If they get out, they get a little fresh air. You can walk on the beach, you can walk on the boardwalk right now," Boyd said, adding that he would abide by whatever actions come from Gov. Phil Murphy that could change.

An executive order from the governor earlier in the week strongly recommended people stay off the road between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.

As of Friday, the state Department of Health reported three COVID-19 cases in Atlantic County and one in Cape May County. The Ocean County Department of Health reported 53 cases but none in Seaside Heights and Long Beach Township and one in neighboring Seaside Park.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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