AVON-BY-THE-SEA, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — This weekend marks the unofficial start to summer, and towns along the Jersey Shore are preparing for big crowds.
Mayors along the Jersey Shore CBS2’s Nick Caloway spoke with say they are ready for the crowds. But businesses are another story, thanks to staffing shortages.READ MORE: Federal Arrest Warrant Issued For Gabby Petito's Missing Fiancé Brian Laundrie
With summer just around the corner, preps are underway on beaches up and down the shore. Mayors and county officials rolled out the welcome mat for tourists on Tuesday.
After a dismal 2020, they expect summer 2021 to be a busy one.
“We’re prepared for a more normal season compared to last season, where, based on direction from the state, we had to severely restrict the number of people on the beach,” Avon-By-The-Sea Mayor Ed Bonanno told Caloway.
Just in time for Memorial Day weekend, mask restrictions are easing, meaning a more comfortable experience down the shore.
“See some faces, some return to normalcy here,” said Avon-by-the-Sea resident Joe Cucci.
“It feels great. Getting this one out for the first time. It’s definitely a great feeling being in fresh air,” one woman said.
“And welcome. Because I think everybody’s just got cabin fever and they can’t wait to get out,” said Bradley Beach resident George Goldberg.READ MORE: 'I Can't Take This Anymore': Heavy Rain In Tri-State Area Renews Flooding Concerns For Many Still Dealing With Damage From Ida
But as masks come down, “help wanted” signs go up.
“Oh, all over the place. Yeah, you see them on the boardwalk, you see them in town. All the stores have them.” Goldberg said.
Business owners on the shore and all over the country are facing a severe staffing shortage. Many blame added unemployment benefits for the lack of enough workers. Potential applicants can make just as much money staying home.
Joeleone Introna owns a group of Italian markets on the Shore.
“We need drastic help, because there’s going to be a big fallout here. People are already getting up and leaving restaurants, they’re not waiting on lines in my store. They’re yelling, they want to be served, the want to be helped. I just don’t have enough help.”
Those in the restaurant industry say the impact is being felt by customers too, and they ask for patience.
“When you go to the restaurant, and when you go to order a drink, and when you’re enjoying the activities and the tourism attractions, please remember that you may have to wait a little longer, you may have to be a little more patient, but these businesses are doing everything that they can with what they have,” Dana Lancelotti, with the New Jersey Restaurant and Hospitality Association, said.
Some business owners told Caloway they have to close entire sections of their restaurants because they don’t have enough staff to accommodate all the customers.MORE NEWS: 1 Killed, 13 Injured In Shooting At Kroger In Collierville, Tennessee
CBS2’s Nick Caloway contributed to this report.