Wildwoods Weigh: Shut Bridges to Non-year-round Residents

NOTE: The Cape May County Herald is offering full coverage of the COVID-19 / coronavirus emergency to all, with no payment required. We are committed to ensuring our readers can make critical decisions for themselves and their families during this ongoing situation. To continue supporting this vital reporting, please consider a digital subscription or contribution. For more coverage, subscribe to our daily newsletter.

WILDWOOD - The Wildwoods' mayors met March 18 to discuss a shutdown of the bridges into town, restricting traffic to only year-round residents and those who work in the Wildwoods, as a way to prevent the spread of the novel Coronavirus, officially named COVID-19.

“My next step is going to be rather aggressive,” Wildwood Crest Mayor Don Cabrera said, in March 18 morning interview. “Working with the other mayors, I want to shut down the bridges. Listen, if you’re not a year-round resident or you don’t have a paycheck stub saying you’re working here, you can’t come down. It’s an aggressive approach, but somehow we have to limit this and look at their statistics and make good, bold decisions.”

Mayor Don Cabrera, of Wildwood Crest, and Mayor Peter Byron, of Wildwood, met March 18, at Wildwood Crest Borough Hall. Mayor Patrick Rosenello, of North Wildwood, joined them via teleconference. 

The meeting not only discussed the issue of restricting non-residents but also looked into whether the mayors have the legal authority to make such a decision.

“Your kneejerk is to say it’s a little extreme,” Byron said, in a phone interview, adding he thinks it would have to be a county mandate. “We’re working on a joint press release….I don’t want to comment on that because we are still piecing it together,”

“I don’t know that we have the ability as a community to make that decision. I think it would have to come from the county and the state,” Byron said, adding he would not be opposed to a mandate on travel in and out of town. “Please, stay home at this point,” he said.

Second homeowners have given pushback to strong suggestions from Freeholder Director Gerald Thornton to stay away from Cape May County while children are off as schools closed and adults are off work.

“If you have any heart whatsoever – probably the areas they’re coming from have much more resources than what we do in our little county – I would ask them to take that into consideration,” Cabrera said, adding the county has a total of 300 hospital beds.

Mayor Patrick Rosenello did not return phone calls from the Herald.

Later that afternoon, the Cape May County Department of Health announced the county’s first confirmed case of COVID-19. According to a release, the patient, a man in his 30s, who resides in New York City, tested positive for the disease at a local health facility while visiting Cape May County.

To contact Shay Roddy, email sroddy@cmcherald.com.