NEW JERSEY — Governor Phil Murphy Wednesday signed Executive Order No. 133, reopening state parks and golf courses, and restoring the authority of county governments to determine whether county parks will be open or closed. This order takes effect at sunrise on Saturday, May 2.
“We understand that New Jerseyans want to get outside and get some fresh air as the weather warms up,” Murphy said. “However, this should not serve as an open invitation to rush back to normalcy and break the necessary social distancing measures we’ve put in place. This approach will also bring New Jersey in line with our neighboring states, which will discourage residents from needlessly crossing state lines for recreation.”
State Parks and Forests: The order allows State parks and forests to open to the public for passive recreation, including fishing, hunting, boating, canoeing, hiking, walking, running or jogging, biking, birding, and horseback riding. Picnic areas, playgrounds, exercise stations and equipment, chartered watercraft services and rentals, swimming, pavilions, restrooms, and other buildings and facilities, such as visitor centers, interpretive centers, and interior historical sites, shall remain closed at this time. To limit physical interaction, the State parks and forests must implement reasonable restrictions that include:
- Limiting parking to 50% of maximum capacity and prohibiting parking in undesignated areas;
- Prohibiting picnics;
- Requiring social distancing to be practiced except with immediate family members, caretakers, household members, or romantic partners; and
- Banning organized or contact activities or sports; and gatherings of any kind.
The order also recommends that people wear a cloth face covering while in public settings at the parks and forests where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
“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 few options for outdoor recreation,” DEP Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe said. “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. We urge visitors to only visit their closest parks, keep their distance from others while outdoors, wear masks and follow the guidelines established to protect public health.”
County Parks: The order opens county parks to the public, except any parks closed by the county prior to Executive Order No. 118 that required all county parks be closed (the county will now have the ability to reopen its parks if it chooses). This will treat county parks the same way as municipal parks – the locality gets to determine whether they are open or closed. County and municipal parks that remain open must abide by the restrictions placed on State parks in Wednesday’s order.
All recreational campgrounds and transient camp sites at campgrounds shall remain closed to the public. Residential campgrounds, including mobile home parks, condo sites, and existing/renewing 2020 yearly seasonal contract sites may remain open. Counties and municipalities can also place restrictions on the ability of residential campgrounds, including mobile home parks, to accept new transient guests or seasonal tenants, as defined by Administrative Order Nos. 2020-08 and 2020-09.
Golf Courses: The order also opens golf courses so long as they adopt minimum social distancing policies that include:
- Implementing electronic or telephone reservation and payment systems while still providing options for populations that do not have access to internet service or credit cards;
- Extending tee times to sixteen minutes apart;
- Limiting the use of golf carts to one person unless being shared by immediate family members, caretakers, household members, or romantic partners;
- Requiring frequent, and after each use, sanitization of high-touch areas such as restroom facilities, range buckets, golf carts, and push carts;
- Restricting the touching of golf holes and flags;
- Closing golf center buildings, pro shops, and other buildings and amenities;
- Removing bunker rakes and other furniture-like benches, water coolers, and ball washers from the course;
- Discontinuing club and equipment rentals;
- Prohibiting the use of caddies; and
- Limiting tee times to two players unless the foursome consists of immediate family, caretakers, household members or romantic partners.
The golf course may impose additional restrictions as necessary to limit person-to-person interactions. The order also recommends, but does not order, that employees, players, and other individuals on the golf course wear cloth face coverings while on the golf course. Additionally, the order clarifies that miniature golf courses and driving ranges must remain closed.
Senator Steve Oroho and Assemblymen Parker Space and Hal Wirths are happy that Gov. Murphy has heeded their calls to reopen the outdoors to help people cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m glad to see the governor move today to reopen our parks and golf courses,” Oroho said. “States in our region have shown that you can reopen these venues safely with social distancing guidelines in place and we can now join them. I hope as industries share plans with the governor on how they can protect consumers and employees while getting back to work, that the governor continues to demonstrate trust in them. Our economy desperately needs businesses to get back on their feet and our residents need to return to some sense of normalcy.”
“I have heard endlessly from people who have wanted to enjoy the land they pay taxes to enjoy,” Wirths said. “I am happy that parks, forests and golf courses will reopen. It will be a boon to mental and physical health and should save many jobs that were at risk of being lost for good.”
“Public parks and recreation are incredibly important and should be open,” Space said. “Hopefully this will lead to more things opening up and other unnecessary restrictions being reversed. This will help businesses and the people they employ. Hopefully that logic extends to Governor Murphy’s other actions that are creating more harm than good.”