New Jersey State Parks, Forests and Golf Courses to Reopen on May 2 With Limitations
May 01, 2020 –State parks, forests and golf courses are set to open this Saturday, May 2, 2020, but not without some limitations.
Executive Order No. 133, which was signed by Governor Phil Murphy on April 29, 2020, also restores the authority of county governments to monitor and determine rules concerning the opening or closure of county parks.
In a press release, Governor Phil Murphy said that many “New Jerseyans want to get outside and get some fresh air as the weather warms up.”
However, Governor Murphy was quick to remind people that the move does not mean an invitation to rush back to normalcy. If anything, he hopes E.O. No. 133 would discourage residents from crossing state borders for recreation.
“More than ever, we know how important it is for the people of New Jersey to take a break from the ongoing self-quarantine and that there are a few options for outdoor recreation,” said Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine McCabe.
The decision to open state parks and golf courses received mixed reactions from citizens, mostly due to the staggering number of Coronavirus positive cases and deaths.
As of today, New Jersey has 118,652 total positives. The total number of deaths has reached 7,228.
“Just as the decision to close parks and forests was not made lightly, the decision to reopen them has also been made with careful thought and consideration for the health and well-being of the public,” Commissioner McCabe said.
Social distancing measures remain in place:
During the first few weeks of the Coronavirus Disease outbreak, the Center for Disease Control has released guidelines about visiting parks, such as visiting parks close to your home and staying six feet away from others.
These social distancing measures will continue, according to the E.O. No. 133, except between immediate family members, household members, caretakers, and romantic partners.
The order also recommends that employees and visitors wear a cloth face-covering in public while at State parks or forests.
Moreover, parking lots in all State parks and forests shall be limited to up to 50 percent maximum capacity.
Limitations on activities:
EO No. 133 provides that State parks and forests shall be open for passive recreation. This includes fishing, hunting, boating, canoeing, hiking, walking, running or jogging, biking, birding, and horseback riding.
On the other hand, playgrounds, picnic areas, exercise stations and equipment, swimming, chartered watercraft services and rentals, pavilions, restrooms, visitor centers, historical sites, and interpretive centers in State parks and forests shall remain closed.
“Reopening our parks and golf courses is the first step toward a ‘new normal. We MUST do this right and responsibly,” said Governor Murphy on his Facebook page. “Don’t congregate. Wear masks. Practice social distancing.”
After being in Coronavirus lockdown for weeks, New Jerseyans are expected to storm the parks and enjoy nature.However, Governor Murphy reminds everyone that the government will be closely monitoring the situation this weekend.
“We know that the overwhelming majority of you will be doing the right thing, and following the need to keep a social distance from others,” he said. “Don’t let a few knuckleheads ruin it for everyone.”
Although the weather forecast indicates heavy showers on Thursday and early Friday, those who plan to visit the parks or play golf can expect pleasant weather this Saturday.
Opening of country parks and campgrounds:
As for county parks, county governments can decide whether to re-open country parks that they closed down before the effectivity of Executive Order No. 118 (2020).
Recreational campgrounds and transient campsites, on the other hand, shall remain closed to the public.
Residential campgrounds, including mobile home parks, condo sites and those sites with existing annual seasonal contracts, may remain open.