Updated: Jennette’s Pier reopens to public, but with a number of changes due to COVID-19

Director Mike Remige posts an exit only sign on the lobby doors of the pier. [courtesy JennettesPier.net]

Like other state-owned museums and aquariums, Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head was shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But after remaining closed through the first week of June, the popular attraction at Whalebone Junction reopened its wooden gates to anglers and walkers on Monday morning.

The pier and the three N.C. Aquariums were closed on March 17 as part of the governor’s executive orders to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus in North Carolina.

They remained closed as the state moved into the “Safer at Home Phase 2” on May 22, which was the day after the ninth anniversary of the grand opening of the current concrete-and-wood pier that replaced the wooden structure built in 1939.

Gov. Roy Cooper said at the time that it could be up to five weeks before North Carolina could move into Phase 3.

While state parks and historic sites have been allowed to open in some capacity, visitor centers and other indoor state-owned facilities have remained closed to the public.

Pier staff were just waiting for a decision on an opening date from the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources and the governor.

Now that has come, and the pier reopened this morning.

[JennettesPier.net photo]

Among the changes put in place for the safety of visitors and staff include entry tickets being sold outside rather than in the lobby, and the pier hours are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Entry will be through the outside gate, while the glass doors from the lobby are exit only. That means the restrooms inside are currently limited to pier customers only.

Interactive exhibits are closed, along with the pier shop, public bathhouse at the parking lot, the Surfside Classroom and Oceanview Hall and second-floor terrace.

Portable toilets have been placed outside the bathhouse for now, and the showers are operating for beachgoers to utilize.

Hand sanitizer stations have been installed, along with protective barriers at the ticket sales and information desk. And there will be increased frequency of cleaning high touch public areas and restrooms.

Out on the pier, which from end-to-end totals over 2,000 linear feet, individual spaces will be marked for fishing to maintain social distancing.

Visitors are encouraged to follow the “Three Ws” as outlined by the N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services – WEAR a cloth face covering; WAIT in line at least six feet away from others, and WASH hands frequently or use hand sanitizer. If you are experiencing symptoms of illness, we ask that you postpone your visit.

The popular daily instructional programs are suspended, while on-site summer camp programs have already been cancelled for 2020.

Assistant director Daryl Law said the pier staff is excited about the virtual camps they have been able to create as an alternative.

Details and updates on pier operations can be found at JennettesPier.net.

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