NJ parks to reopen Saturday morning

Washington Crossing Park (Photo by Amie Rukenstein)

In a tweet this morning, Governor Murphy indicated that he will sign an executive order later today to reopen New Jersey’s state parks and allow golf courses and county parks to reopen. This order will take effect at sunrise on Saturday, May 2. Social distancing will continue to be mandated.

A news conference by the Governor is planned for 1pm

MercerMe will continue to update this story as it evolves.

Updated at 2pm:

In the Governor’s 1pm conference, he made the following points:

  • Governor Murphy talked about how the doubling rate – the amount of days it takes to double the number of infections – is decreasing but that the infections are migrating south.  He notes a downward bend of the curve across north and central New Jersey but curving up slowly in the south.
  • There are 1,811 patients hospitalized in critical condition due to COVID-19 today.  Murphy noted that this is virtually the same number as yesterday but significantly lower than last week.
  • He said that data from hospitals is critical in gauging when it is appropriate to reopen the State. The statistics of number of people in critical care, number of deaths, and number of discharges of people returned to health are more reliable than testing statistics. Graphs that are produced from these statistics are good signs, he said, but only we can continue to push it down. He said the mantra is: “public health creates economic health”, and that everyone must continue to practice social distancing.

Announcements about parks re-opening:

  • As noted in his tweet from this morning, he will be signing an executive order today reopening state parks and allowing golf courses to reopen.  Social distancing will be strongly enforced. All parks will have parking capped at 50% of capacity and he encouraged people to walk to local parks rather than driving to them.
  • He hasn’t mandated that you cover your face while in the park but he strongly urges that people do that, especially where it is difficult to social distance, but he said that he and (Pennington’s own) NJ Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli would prefer to see everyone with their faces covered all the time.   
  • He appreciates everyone who reached out but emphasized that this decision was based on science and consideration of public and mental health.
  • Later in the news conference, he restated that rules for social distancing in the parks will be strictly enforced.  He explained that if people behave responsibly, the parks will stay open, but if too many people are engaging in unsafe behavior, he will close them again.
  • He said it is up to counties and municipalities whether they will reopen parks they are in charge of.

Other Announcements:

He announced an executive order about elections and stated that no one should be going door to door campaigning

He announced that there is now unemployment relief for self-employed people. To find the resources go to covid19.nj.gov type “self employed “in the search box.

Murphy spoke about how New Jersey has been partnering to produce our own face masks and gowns. The State has distributed 21 million pieces of ppe to frontline workers.  He said “that is a line of business NJ was not even in 2 months ago.”  And he said he was proud New Jersey is able to help Massachusetts by sending them PPE because they continue to be in great need.

There are currently 104 testing sites across the state, which can be found by contacting your doctor or, for public sites, by going to covid19.nj.gov

Murphy added that expanding access to testing is among his administration’s highest priorities.  We are the third or fourthhighest testing states in the US, which has been achieved by maximizing partnerships with Rutgers, private labs and the federal government. “Having strong testing system is critical.”

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