POINT PLEASANT, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – From Coney Island to the Jersey Shore, people are out enjoying beaches in the Tri-State Area.

In many ways, Point Pleasant beach looks like you’d expect: There are people on the sand, in their lounge chairs, with umbrellas and – hopefully – sunscreen. But in many ways, things are different.

“You have to remember your mask, of course. Can’t leave the house without that. And definitely hand sanitizer too,” said Morgan Miller of Uniontown, Pennsylvania.

Those have become essentials during this pandemic. Along Jenkinson’s boardwalk, you’ll see plenty of it.

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Even though the arcades, shops and restaurants are all open, the rules have changed.

“One of the things we like to remind our customers is it’s a partnership. We’re doing everything we can on our end, and we just hope that everyone [who] comes, they do everything on their end as well,” said Toby Wolf, director of marketing at Jenkinson’s. “So we wear the masks, do the social distancing. If you’re not feeling well, don’t come out. It’s a true partnership to keep the family fun going through the summer of 2020.”

Wolf says they’ve had to make adjustments. The chairs at the bar have all been pushed to the side. Tables are being used as barriers, and security has been stepped up to make sure people aren’t too close. But all of it is worth it to be here.

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“I mean, I get emotional seeing all the people back on the boardwalk. It’s so wonderful to see the families back,” Wolf said.

For regulars at the beach like Kathy Murphy, it’s a much-needed reprieve.

“Thank God they opened. Can you imagine if we didn’t have the beach open? We would be, forget it. So the water’s great, and unfortunately we’ve got this virus going, but you know what, everything will get better,” she said.

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As friends and families come to Point Pleasant to enjoy July 4th weekend, it’s a sign of the progress we’ve all made.

“Definitely, as a nurse, my hospital, I’ve seen the numbers have been decreasing, it’s been awesome. I’m hopeful for the future, that we’re going to have a better summer, a better fall. I’m not sure what it’s going to bring with the second wave or anything like that. But for right now, enjoying this, it’s sunny, it’s a nice day out, and I want to be here,” said Julianna Kobus of Morristown.

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At Seaside Heights, there were fewer people on the beach building sandcastles, jumping in the ocean and sunbathing on their towels.

But that’s why Dalari Monroe says she drove two hours from Philadelphia with her daughter and grandkids.

“Basically, people are keeping their distance, you know, on the boardwalk most people I see are wearing masks,” Monroe told CBS2’s Cory James. “It seems safe.”

Safe is how Connecticut mom Nicole Ely hoped to feel on her first trip to the Jersey Shore with her 9-month-old daughter.

“I was a little nervous especially because she likes to take everything at the restaurant and put her mouth on everything,” she said.

Concerning because Ely watched her father battle COVID-19 back in March.

“He actually got it twice,” she said. “He was in the hospital and everything … He’s home, he’s all better.”

Because of the progress made in New Jersey, this is the first weekend this summer that amusement parks, playgrounds and outdoor water parks can now be open at 50% capacity.

A number of people were seen taking advantage of the need for speed on the racetrack, an experience those behind the wheel didn’t think they’d see.

“It was great,” one person said.

“It was fast, it was adrenaline,” another person said.

It was also good business for parking attendant Maro Camaro, who was charging $8 to park in his lot. He says he’s finally getting the traction that he missed during Memorial Day weekend.

“Ninety-nine percent more, so much better than before. We had less than 95%,” he said.

It’s a sign that life is returning to some sense of normalcy, even though social distancing signs, stickers and clear messages for face coverings were all over the boardwalk and businesses.

It’s the start of an unusual July 4th weekend, but one that people are still celebrating together.

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