NEW JERSEY - Some say getting the COVID-19 vaccination is no day at the beach, but they're wrong: Getting the shot in New Jersey will get residents an entire summer at one of the state's most popular beaches, free of charge.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy went to Island Beach State Park on the Ocean County coastline Wednesday to announce a series of incentives aimed at convincing more people to get vaccinated against the virus.
The most lucrative: A free season pass to any state park — including Island Beach State Park — for anyone who has received at least one shot by July 4. Eligibility includes those who have already gotten shots before the initiative was announced.
Beginning Wednesday, businesses can operate at full capacity with some restrictions in New Jersey.
People still have to keep 6 feet apart. If you’re going inside a business you must wear a mask.
Stephanie Miesch, the owner of G-Force Fitness and Training in Rutherford says this is a step in the right direction.
"It is exciting to see us move forward, but we still are pretty cautious about taking everyone’s health seriously. We’ll be keeping on masks until he does lift them... and until then we will give them them the choice," says Miesch.
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Others say they want Governor Murphy to get rid of masks.
"I don’t think we need masks anymore. How many states have lifted the mask mandate," says Micheal Fencik, the co-owner of Varrelman’s Bake Shop in Rutherford.
Fencing adds that businesses going back to full capacity will not affect him much since people still have to social distance. He says overall his customers have been doing a good job following the state’s latest Covid-19.
"In the beginning. My customers without being told social distances and formed lines outside. I never had to instruct anyone," says Fencik.
The Democratic governor also announced two other incentives, including a free glass of wine at one of nine participating New jersey wineries, and the chance to win dinner with the governor and first lady Tammy Murphy either at Drumthwacket, the governor's mansion in Princeton, or at the governor's beach house at Island Beach State Park.
Starting May 27, people can go to www.nj.gov/vaxandvisit to apply for the free season parks pass, which will be emailed.
Wineries participating in the vaccination promotion are Amalthea Cellars in Atco; Auburn Road Vineyards in Pilesgrove; Bellview Winery in Landisville; DiMatteo Vineyards in Hammonton; Salem Oak Vineyards in Pedricktown; Terhune Orchards in Princeton; Tomasello Winery, which has several locations; Villa Milagro Vineyards in Pohatcong, and White Horse Winery in Hammonton.
It applies to residents who get their first dose of vaccine in May.
The governor said more than 3.9 million New Jerseyans are already fully vaccinated. The state's goal is to increase that number to 4.7 million by June 30, he said.
"Clearly we have this virus on the run," he said. "But while we have this virus on the run, the fight is not yet over."
Earlier this year the state rolled out a similar initiative involving free beer at some of the state's microbreweries for the recently vaccinated.
With the Associated Press.