EMERALD ISLE — The Bogue Inlet Fishing Pier is now closed after staying open for a few weeks after the novel coronavirus began to affect North Carolina.
Owner Mike Stanley shut down the pier’s beach access couple of weeks ago, but the parking lot was still open for pier customers.
Although the pier could have remained open to fishermen under Gov. Roy Cooper’s stay-at-home executive order exemption for “outdoor recreation,” Mr. Stanley chose to close it. The town, he said, did not force the closure.
The governor’s order required those engaging in outdoor recreation to maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet, and Mr. Stanley said many at the pier weren’t doing so.
“We closed the pier and beach access to the public (this week) on our own,” he said Thursday. “Shirley (Mr. Stanley’s wife) and I realized how important restricting them from congregating was, considering no one was taking it seriously.”
He said for now, Surf's Up restaurant at the pier is still open for takeout and he appreciated the community’s patronage in trying to “help keep the doors open.”
However, he added, “I believe crunch time is upon us now and there is still plenty of room to tighten up. We’re working with the town to ensure our business is a leader in the fight to keep our friends and family safe from this problem.
“I only hope people will understand that we are serious about unnecessary visiting at this time,” he continued.
Before he closed the pier this week, Mr. Stanley reasoned it was safe to leave it open.
“We feel like it’s OK to keep the pier open for now because there is already social distancing,” he said earlier this month. “Everybody stays pretty far apart anyway.”
The pier has been open for close to 60 years and has been owned by the Stanley family since 1971.
It has been repaired or rebuilt numerous times because of hurricanes and for years has served as the site of the town’s July 4th fireworks event.
The Oceanana Pier in Atlantic Beach was open Friday morning but only to those who have a seasonal pass or purchase a daily pass.
Pier management is not allowing the public to walk out on the pier without fishing, and social distancing rules are being enforced.
Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email Brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.