8:29 PM - July 6, 2020
8:29 PM - July 6, 2020

Philly-area companies reap millions from Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses

Parking lot at 23rd and Market Streets, where Parkway Corp. wants to build a new office tower.
File Photograph
Parking lot at 23rd and Market Streets, where Parkway Corp. wants to build a new office tower.

More than 90 Philadelphia-area companies received up to $10 million each from the Paycheck Protection Program, the maximum amount available under the federal program of forgivable loans set up to help small businesses through the coronavirus pandemic.

Those receiving between $5 million and $10 million, the highest tier in data released on Monday by the Trump administration, include law firms Archer & Greiner and White & Williams and developer and parking-lot operator Parkway Corp. in Philadelphia; the Allied Resources Group staffing firm in Exton; the Miller Service Corp. auto group in Lumberton; and the Mt. Laurel-based mortgage lender known as Annie Mac.

Key nonprofit and cultural institutions also received money, including Mastery Charter Schools of Camden, Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Philadelphia board that oversees the Stephen Girard Estate and other city trusts.

The funds are part of at least $7.4 billion in potentially forgivable loans granted to firm and nonprofit organizations in Philadelphia and neighboring Pennsylvania and South Jersey counties from the $660 billion Paycheck Protection Program.

— Jacob Adelman, Erin Arvedlund and Chris A. Williams

7:42 PM - July 6, 2020
7:42 PM - July 6, 2020

New rules: Foreign pupils must leave U.S. if classes go online

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Dallas on Wednesday April 3, 2018. (Shaban Athuman/The Dallas Morning News)
Shaban Athuman / MCT
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Dallas on Wednesday April 3, 2018. (Shaban Athuman/The Dallas Morning News)

International students will be forced to leave the U.S. or transfer to another college if their schools offer classes entirely online this fall, under new guidelines issued Monday by federal immigration authorities.

The guidelines, issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, provide additional pressure for campuses to reopen even amid growing concerns about the recent spread of COVID-19 among young adults. Colleges received the guidance the same day that some schools, including Harvard University, announced that all instruction will be offered remotely.

President Donald Trump has insisted that schools and universities return to in-person instruction as soon as possible. After the guidance was released, Trump repeated on Twitter that schools must reopen this fall.

— Associated Press

6:16 PM - July 6, 2020
6:16 PM - July 6, 2020

Atlanta mayor tests positive for COVID-19, she announces on Twitter

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced Monday evening on her Twitter account that she has tested positive for COVID-19.

“COVID-19 has literally hit home. I have had NO symptoms and have tested positive,” she wrote.

— Staff Report

5:30 PM - July 6, 2020
5:30 PM - July 6, 2020

A Pa. congressman got up to $1 million in coronavirus PPP loans for his car dealerships

Rep, Mike Kelly, R-Pa., speaks as the House of Representatives debates the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019. (House Television via AP)
AP
Rep, Mike Kelly, R-Pa., speaks as the House of Representatives debates the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019. (House Television via AP)

A Pennsylvania congressman received as much as $1 million in federal coronavirus relief loans for his car dealerships, according to records released Monday.

U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, a Butler Republican who represents a northwest Pennsylvania district that includes Erie, owns car dealerships outside Pittsburgh. Three entities associated with his business — Mike Kelly Automotive Group Inc., Mike Kelly Automotive LP, and Mike Kelly Hyundai Inc. — each received federal loans ranging between $150,000 and $350,000, Treasury Department records show.

Kelly’s businesses received the government-backed loans in April under the $660 billion Paycheck Protection Program enacted by Congress and President Donald Trump as part of the government’s pandemic relief legislation. The loans are forgivable if businesses spend the money on payroll costs to avoid layoffs, as well as other eligible expenses.

— Andrew Seidman

3:17 PM - July 6, 2020
3:17 PM - July 6, 2020

Pa. has distributed $23.7 billion in unemployment benefits since mid-March

File photo of Pennsylvania state Capitol.
KALIM BHATTI / The Philadelphia Inquirer / Kalim A. Bhatti
File photo of Pennsylvania state Capitol.

Pennsylvania workers have received $23.7 billion in unemployment benefits since the pandemic put millions of people out of work, state officials said Monday.

The total payout since March 15 includes state and federal assistance distributed by the Department of Labor & Industry. The department has received more than 2.2 million claims for unemployment compensation since mid-March, said Labor & Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak.

There has been a sharp decline in COVID-19-related applications. Initially the department received about 300,000 per week, but now it’s down to less than 50,000 per week, Oleksiak said.

The department continues to cut down on the backlog of claims. As of Monday, 90% of eligible claimants who filed for benefits since March 15 have received payments.

— Christian Hetrick

2:40 PM - July 6, 2020
2:40 PM - July 6, 2020

South Dakota governor, exposed to coronavirus, joined Trump on Air Force One

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Gov. Kristi Noem greet President Donald Trump and first Lady Melania Trump upon arrival at Ellsworth Air Force Base, Friday, July 3, 2020, in Rapid City, S.D. Trump is en route to Mount Rushmore National Memorial. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Alex Brandon / AP
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Gov. Kristi Noem greet President Donald Trump and first Lady Melania Trump upon arrival at Ellsworth Air Force Base, Friday, July 3, 2020, in Rapid City, S.D. Trump is en route to Mount Rushmore National Memorial. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Shortly after fireworks above Mount Rushmore disappeared into the night sky on Friday, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem accompanied President Donald Trump aboard Air Force One despite having had close contact with Trump’s son’s girlfriend, who had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Trump has been in a position all along to encounter a virus that spreads from people who don’t feel sick, such as Noem, who had interacted closely at a campaign fundraiser with Donald Trump Jr.‘s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, who turned out to be sick. Noem didn’t wear a mask on the plane and chatted with the president as the flight returned to Washington, D.C., according to her spokesperson, Maggie Seidel.

Noem had tested negative for COVID-19 shortly before welcoming Trump to South Dakota on Friday, a day after she had interacted with Guilfoyle. One photo on social media showed Noem and Guilfoyle, who is also a Trump campaign staff member, hugging. The Trump campaign announced that Guilfoyle had tested positive on Friday.

Asked about Trump’s interaction with Noem, the White House noted the frequency with which the president is tested.

“The president is tested constantly, has tested negative, and those around him are tested as well,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said.

— Associated Press

2:04 PM - July 6, 2020
2:04 PM - July 6, 2020

Wolf won’t say if he’ll extend eviction moratorium in Pa., which expires Friday

Graffiti calling for a rent strike is pictured on a corner store that closed long before the coronavirus pandemic in West Philadelphia on Wednesday, April 8, 2020. Some tenants across the country have begun organizing rent strikes due to the economic effects of the pandemic.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Graffiti calling for a rent strike is pictured on a corner store that closed long before the coronavirus pandemic in West Philadelphia on Wednesday, April 8, 2020. Some tenants across the country have begun organizing rent strikes due to the economic effects of the pandemic.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said he has not yet decided whether he will extend the state’s eviction and foreclosure moratorium, which is set to expire Friday.

”I haven’t made a decision on that yet,” Wolf said when asked about the moratorium at a press conference Monday. When a reporter asked whether he was leaning one way or another on the decision, he said he was “not ready to say.”

Wolf extended the state’s original moratorium on evictions and foreclosures in May through July 10 to help struggling residents amid the pandemic. But he made clear that rent and mortgage payments will still be due eventually, and those who don’t pay will accrue back pay and potential late fees. He urged Pennsylvanians struggling to make payments to negotiate with their landlord or mortgage provider.

If the moratorium ends, it would only apply to suburban counties and not Philadelphia, where an eviction moratorium has been extended through Aug. 31. The city also makes allowances for tenants during the pandemic.

The city’s landlord-tenant court was expected to open today to begin processing pre-pandemic cases, but it will remain closed through Sept. 2 amid rising coronavirus cases.

— Ellie Rushing

1:41 PM - July 6, 2020
1:41 PM - July 6, 2020

Philly adds 274 new cases since Friday

People walk pass by Independence Hall and take photos on July 3, 2020. The coronavirus has cancelled many events and closed businesses causing little traffic over the holiday weekend.
TYGER WILLIAMS / Staff Photographer
People walk pass by Independence Hall and take photos on July 3, 2020. The coronavirus has cancelled many events and closed businesses causing little traffic over the holiday weekend.

Philadelphia added 274 new coronavirus cases over a three-day period since Friday, the city announced Monday.

The number is slightly less than 100 per day the city averaged last week, as case counts continue to rise slowly. Overall, 26,810 city residents have contracted the virus.

The city also announced one new death from the coronavirus Thursday, bringing the total number of deaths among city residents to 1,617 — about half of which were people living in long-term care facilities.

Applications for a second phase of rental assistance for tenants affected by COVID-19 will be accepted starting at 2 p.m Monday. Applications may be submitted until September 30 or when funding runs out. The city said it expects to help about 6,300 more renters with this second phase of funding.

Tenants can apply at PHLRentAssist.org.

— Rob Tornoe

1:41 PM - July 6, 2020
1:41 PM - July 6, 2020

Pa. to release more funds for childcare centers to prevent closures

Pennsylvania will release $53 million in CARES Act funding to childcare centers across the state in an effort to prevent centers from closing and support parents returning to work amid the reopening.

The additional federal funding, announced by Governor Tom Wolf Monday, comes after the state released $51 million in funding to childcare centers in June. Despite this funding, 65 centers across the state have permanently closed because of the financial impact from the coronavirus, Wolf said, and dozens more are expected to close in the coming months. Those that haven’t closed have laid off hundreds of workers.

“With more parents now needing to get back to work, one of the things we need to do is relieve them of the pressure and the stress of them not knowing what to do with their children,” Wolf said.

Day-care centers typically operate on the narrowest of margins, unable to withstand major disruptions, employing workers who make between $10 and $20 per hour. In a recent national survey, 30% of providers said they could not survive a closure of more than two weeks without significant support.

“We need to invest in early childhood education or we will be condemned to spend a lot more money later on as a society,” he said.

— Ellie Rushing

1:27 PM - July 6, 2020
1:27 PM - July 6, 2020

Coronavirus transmission rate increases in N.J., surpassing key mark

A woman is one of the few people wearing a mask on the boardwalk in Wildwood, N.J., as she rides a tram on Friday, July 3, 2020. Hot weather and the Fourth of July weekend brought crowds to the Jersey Shore despite the coronavirus pandemic.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
A woman is one of the few people wearing a mask on the boardwalk in Wildwood, N.J., as she rides a tram on Friday, July 3, 2020. Hot weather and the Fourth of July weekend brought crowds to the Jersey Shore despite the coronavirus pandemic.

New Jersey’s rate of transmission – the rate at which the virus spreads from one person to another – has surpassed 1.0 for the first time in 10 weeks, Gov. Phil Murphy said.

In recent weeks Murphy has sounded the alarm on the gradually rising transmission rate. As of this weekend it was 1.03, which means every new case of COVID-19 is now leading to at least one other new case.

“We need to do more,” Murphy said. “We need to be smarter and work harder.”

New Jersey officials have also learned of new outbreaks in North Jersey that are linked to people who traveled to COVID-19 hotspots, Murphy said. One, which has impacted Sussex and Warren Counties, stems from people who recently attended a wedding in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Murphy noted that the state’s travel advisory, in which travelers from known infection hotspots are asked to quarantine for 14 days upon reaching New Jersey, was put in place specifically to address such activity.

He also urged residents to wear face masks, saying people were maskless on the boardwalk over the holiday weekend.

“We all need to wear face coverings, even when it’s a hot day like today,” Murphy said. “COVID-19 doesn’t care about the weather. It only cares about finding another person to infect.”

— Allison Steele

12:20 PM - July 6, 2020
12:20 PM - July 6, 2020

Coronavirus cases continue to spike in Allegheny County

Boaters gather at the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers in downtown Pittsburgh, Friday, June 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
AP
Boaters gather at the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers in downtown Pittsburgh, Friday, June 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Pennsylvania announced 450 new coronavirus cases on Monday, with nearly half occurring in Allegheny County.

Allegheny, home to Pittsburgh, reported 218 new coronavirus cases, just the second time since the start of the pandemic the county has topped 200 cases. Overall, 3,775 people in Allegheny have tested positive for COVID-19, and 188 have died, according to the county’s health department.

After Allegheny posted 233 new cases last Thursday — the county’s highest number in a 24-hour period — officials closed casinos and in-door service at bars and restaurants for at least a week. The county said the positive test rate for the month remains above 10%.

Pennsylvania also reported just one new death since Sunday, increasing the state’s confirmed death toll to 6,754. Currently, 598 Pennsylvanians are hospitalized by the coronavirus, a slight decrease from last week and well below the state’s capacity.

— Rob Tornoe

12:00 PM - July 6, 2020
12:00 PM - July 6, 2020

Princeton to allow undergrads to return to campus, but just for one semester

Undergraduate students at Princeton University will be allowed to return to campus for one semester during the upcoming 2020-21 academic year, the school announced on Monday.

First-year students and juniors will be allowed to return to campus for the fall semester, while sophomores and seniors will be able to come back for the spring semester. Most classes will remain online in an effort to reduce the density of people on campus, and all undergraduates will have the option of completing the entire year remotely.

“New Jersey is reopening carefully and responsibly,” Princeton President President Christopher Eisgruber said in a statement. “Both state law and public health guidance significantly restrict our options for the fall.”

Students will be tested for COVID-19 when they arrive on campus and regularly throughout the semester. The fall semester is now scheduled to begin on Monday, August 31.

The Council of Ivy League Presidents is expected to announce a final decision about athletics during the fall 2020 semester on July 8

— Rob Tornoe

11:38 AM - July 6, 2020
11:38 AM - July 6, 2020

With pools closed for the summer, Philly opens 91 spraygrounds

4-year-old Nikhil Bonney plays in the sprayground in Herron Park in 2013.
Stephanie Aaronson / File Photograph
4-year-old Nikhil Bonney plays in the sprayground in Herron Park in 2013.

Mayor Jim Kenney and Council President Darrell L. Clarke on Monday officially opened the city’s 91 spraygrounds for the summer season at an event at Mander Playground in Strawberry Mansion.

City pools are closed this year due to previous concerns about spreading the virus. Kenney said the city later learned the virus does not spread in water, but it was too late to staff up pools for the summer.

At the spraygrounds, in which children run through sprinklers and fountains, kids will be instructed to wear masks when they are not in the water, Kenney said.

Monday also marked the first day of the city’s summer camp programs. The programs usually draw about 8,000 participants, but the city this year capped enrollment at 4,000 to allow for social distancing and other coronavirus safety practices, according to a spokesperson for the Department of Parks & Recreation. Only about 2,000 have signed up so far, and enrollment is still open.

— Sean Walsh

11:18 AM - July 6, 2020
11:18 AM - July 6, 2020

Rutgers will offer most courses remotely in the fall, with just a limited number of in-person classes

Rutgers will offer most classes remotely and just a limited number of courses in-person during the fall 2020 semester, the school announced on Monday.
Rutgers will offer most classes remotely and just a limited number of courses in-person during the fall 2020 semester, the school announced on Monday.

Rutgers will only offer a limited number of in-person classes during the fall 2020 semester, while a majority of the courses will be delivered remotely, the school announced on Monday.

Among the classes that will continue to be taught in-person next semester are select courses in the arts, laboratory or field work, and clinical instruction, according to Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway. On-campus housing across Rutgers will also be extremely limited, and the suspensions of campus events will remain in place during the fall semester.

“This decision was not made easily or hastily … We have wanted very fervently to be able to resume some version of a normal semester,” Holloway said in a statement. “But given the continued increase in COVID-19 cases across the country, the near-term outlook for the public health crisis in our state, and the uncertainty about the course of the pandemic, we had to make a different decision.”

In terms of athletics, Holloway said decisions regarding the forthcoming season, including football, “will continue to be guided by state requirements and policies developed by the campuses’ respective athletic conferences.”

— Rob Tornoe

10:40 AM - July 6, 2020
10:40 AM - July 6, 2020

‘We will not sacrifice the health and safety of our players’: Nationals president warns return of baseball ‘at risk’

Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez, left, talks with general manager Mike Rizzo during spring training baseball practice in February.
Jeff Roberson / AP
Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez, left, talks with general manager Mike Rizzo during spring training baseball practice in February.

The Washington Nationals canceled their Monday morning workout because of a delay in coronavirus test results that could put both players and staff “at risk,” the team’s president said on Monday.

Mike Rizzo, the Nationals’ president of baseball operations and general manager, said in a statement that all players and staff were tested for COVID-19 on Friday, and three days later, they have not received the results.

Rizzo said without accurate and timely testing, both the team’s “Summer Camp and the 2020 Season are at risk.”

“We will not sacrifice the health and safety of our players, staff and their families,” Rizzo said. “Major League Baseball needs to work quickly to resolve issues with their process and their lab.”

— Rob Tornoe

9:50 AM - July 6, 2020
9:50 AM - July 6, 2020

Reopening today in Philly: Philadelphia Zoo, Franklin Square, and the spraygrounds

Signage is in place to inform visitors of need to follow safety protocol during time of covid-19 at Franklin Square Park. The Parx Liberty Carousel and Franklin Fountain will be reopening at 6th and Race in Center City Philadelphia on Monday, July 6, 2020. Franklin Square has been shutdown during covid-19 pandemic.
ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff Photographer
Signage is in place to inform visitors of need to follow safety protocol during time of covid-19 at Franklin Square Park. The Parx Liberty Carousel and Franklin Fountain will be reopening at 6th and Race in Center City Philadelphia on Monday, July 6, 2020. Franklin Square has been shutdown during covid-19 pandemic.

While indoor dining and other reopen plans were pushed back to Aug. 1 at the earliest, there are several reopenings happening in Philadelphia today:

Philadelphia Zoo: Reopens to members only today (and the public on July 9). Reservations are required, and indoor animal exhibits remain closed.

Franklin Square Park: The park’s new fountain show and carousel will reopen to the public today at noon. Philly mini golf and the playground will also reopen.

Philly spraygrounds: The city will turn on the water at its 91 spraygrounds today. They will be open from 3 to 7 p.m. on weekdays and noon to 5 p.m. on weekends.

— Rob Tornoe

9:10 AM - July 6, 2020
9:10 AM - July 6, 2020

Flyers would play in Toronto under new NHL agreement

The Flyers won't return to the Wells Fargo Center this season under a new agreement that could see NHL action resume.
MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer
The Flyers won't return to the Wells Fargo Center this season under a new agreement that could see NHL action resume.

The NHL and the NHL Players Association have reached a tentative agreement on the protocols for the resumption of play according to reports Sunday night.

TSN.ca said the two sides have determined the specifics involved for the 24 teams participating in a playoff tournament within two bubble cities. The Flyers and the rest of the Eastern Conference would play in Toronto. The Western Conference would anchor in Edmonton.

The ratification of a new six-year Collective Bargaining Agreement is tied to the deal, which would call for training camps to open July 13. Each team would be permitted a traveling party of 52 into the secure zones of the bubble cities, including a maximum of 31 players.

The tentative agreement must be ratified by a majority of players and two-thirds of the league’s board of governors, according to the Associated Press. Players may opt out of returning to play within three days of the full voting to avoid penalty.

— Ed Barkowitz

8:00 AM - July 6, 2020
8:00 AM - July 6, 2020

Coronavirus cases in Philly, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware as of Monday morning

Sam Pardys, front left, uses a credit card to pay at Baker Street Bread Co., as staff person Sarah Raab, back right, looks on, in Philadelphia, July 3, 2020.
JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Sam Pardys, front left, uses a credit card to pay at Baker Street Bread Co., as staff person Sarah Raab, back right, looks on, in Philadelphia, July 3, 2020.

As of Monday morning, over 2.8 million Americans have tested positive for coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University. At least 129,947 people have died, easily the most in the world and double the number of the next highest country (at least 64,867 deaths in Brazil).

New Jersey, which had been the second-hardest state in the country, has seen its caseload surpassed by California, Florida, and Texas due to a surge of cases in the South and West.

The U.S. added 49,199 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, and the rolling seven-day average for new cases in a 24-hour period reached a high for the 27th day in a row, according to data tracked by the Washington Post.

On a positive note, the number of deaths in the U.S. have not tracked with the spike in new cases. Experts say that’s due in part to the fact the new increase in cases has been among younger victims.

Here’s where the region is in terms of coronavirus cases as off Monday morning, though some health departments didn’t report new numbers on Sunday due to the holiday:

  • Pennsylvania: 89,854 cases, 6,753 deaths. 479 new cases were reported on Sunday.
  • New Jersey: 173,402 cases, 15,211 deaths. 398 new cases were reported on Sunday.
  • Delaware: 11,996 cases, 512 deaths. 73 new cases were reported on Saturday.
  • Philadelphia: 26,536 cases, 1,616 deaths. 136 new cases were reported on Friday.

— Rob Tornoe

7:30 AM - July 6, 2020
7:30 AM - July 6, 2020

Murphy says N.J. experiencing ‘small spikes’ in cases due to travel

Visitors stand on a corner on Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Gov. Phil Muprhy said New Jersey is seeing "small spikes" in cases due to residents traveling to coronavirus hot spots.
Brett Lemmo / Washington Post News Service
Visitors stand on a corner on Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Gov. Phil Muprhy said New Jersey is seeing "small spikes" in cases due to residents traveling to coronavirus hot spots.

New Jersey is beginning to see “small spikes” in coronavirus cases due to residents traveling to other states, Gov. Phil Murphy said Sunday.

Murphy, during an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, pointed to people taking trips to locations where cases are surging, such as South Carolina and Florida. In one case Murphy cited, contact tracers identified New Jersey residents returning to the state after contracting the virus at a wedding in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

“We’ve got other cases were running down, but that’s the one that’s most recent and most prevalent,” Murphy said.

Murphy said the state is already seeing a slight increase in the number of new daily cases, and fears gatherings over the July 4th weekend will only drive the numbers up more.

“We’re not out of the woods yet, without any questions,” Murphy said.

Murphy also stressed the need for a national plan, coming from the White House, to handle the new surge in coronavirus cases. And part of that, Murphy said, needs to be a requirement for people to wear masks in public.

“To me, it says we need a national strategy. We’re only as strong as our weakest link,” Murphy said, “And masking has got to be at the core of that.”

— Rob Tornoe

7:10 AM - July 6, 2020
7:10 AM - July 6, 2020

Resistance and hitches to masks at the Shore

Restaurant tables on the 5200 block of Atlantic Avenue in Ventnor are jammed too close for social distancing comfort.
Craig LaBan
Restaurant tables on the 5200 block of Atlantic Avenue in Ventnor are jammed too close for social distancing comfort.

Perhaps we clutched our masks too tightly, at the ready to put them on out of courtesy if a server came to our table. Perhaps our gazes of alarm were too obvious as a manager and chef emerged from the storefront at Pulia in Ventnor one recent evening without masks to greet a sidewalk table of familiar customers, fist-bumping, close-talking, and essentially vaporizing any illusion of caution the restaurant’s disinfectant-spray-wielding servers had done their diligent best to maintain.

We had managed to snag a relatively isolated table at the far end of the scrum. But it wasn’t far enough to escape the ire of a mask-hating customer nearby that we had unknowingly offended. On her way out, she veered along the sidewalk directly toward our table and leaned in as she passed, a pale trace of ice cream still glazing her lips, and told us with a menacing hiss: “Stay home!”

I had arrived at the Jersey Shore just as outdoor dining began in mid-June and complained that in the first few days, two other Ventnor restaurants I’ve enjoyed in previous years (the Red Room and Santucci’s) were too lax in their early mask-wearing practices — hanging below the nose, dangling around the neck, none at all — and that we’d decided not to stay at either for dinner.

“There has definitely been a learning curve,” says Santucci’s owner, Alicia Santucci, who says mask policies are now being strictly enforced and that employees are given temperature checks each morning.

Getting customers to cooperate can be an even taller challenge, says Red Room owner Jack Gatta.

“A lot of them just don’t care about masks when they get up and walk around … and I can’t physically grab them and put a mask on ‘em. People get ornery,” he says. “As a business owner you don’t know what the hell to do. You want to fight with this guy? I just wish it would go back to normal.”

— Craig Laban

7:00 AM - July 6, 2020
7:00 AM - July 6, 2020

Photos: July 4th weekend at Ocean City, N.J.

Beach goers pack the shoreline in Ocean City, NJ on July 4. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the Fourth of July weekend brought large crowds to beaches and boardwalks along the South Jersey coast.
JEFF FUSCO / For the Inquirer
Beach goers pack the shoreline in Ocean City, NJ on July 4. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the Fourth of July weekend brought large crowds to beaches and boardwalks along the South Jersey coast.
Visitors pack the boardwalk in Ocean City, NJ on July 4. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the Fourth of July weekend brought large crowds to beaches and boardwalks along the South Jersey coast.
JEFF FUSCO / For the Inquirer
Visitors pack the boardwalk in Ocean City, NJ on July 4. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the Fourth of July weekend brought large crowds to beaches and boardwalks along the South Jersey coast.
Leah Shiff and her daughter Shira walk the boardwalk after receiving a gift bag from the Ocean City Public Relations team as a thank you for wearing masks in Ocean City, NJ on July 4. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the Fourth of July weekend brought large crowds to beaches and boardwalks along the South Jersey coast.
JEFF FUSCO / For the Inquirer
Leah Shiff and her daughter Shira walk the boardwalk after receiving a gift bag from the Ocean City Public Relations team as a thank you for wearing masks in Ocean City, NJ on July 4. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the Fourth of July weekend brought large crowds to beaches and boardwalks along the South Jersey coast.
Riders on the GaleForce roller coaster at Playland’s Castaway Cove in Ocean City, N.J. on July 2.
ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer
Riders on the GaleForce roller coaster at Playland’s Castaway Cove in Ocean City, N.J. on July 2.
Catalina Palmieri, 6, (left) and her brother Raymond Palmieri, 9, of Vineland, N.J. laugh as they ride the Tidal Wave ride at Playland’s Castaway Cove in Ocean City, N.J. on July 2.
ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer
Catalina Palmieri, 6, (left) and her brother Raymond Palmieri, 9, of Vineland, N.J. laugh as they ride the Tidal Wave ride at Playland’s Castaway Cove in Ocean City, N.J. on July 2.