New Jersey Reopens Its Parks and Golf Courses, But With Conditions

New Jersey state parks and forests, as well as golf courses, reopened Saturday to the public. But residents will still have to follow certain guidelines amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Governor Phil Murphy signed the executive order reopening state parks April 29 that went into effect at 6 a.m. EDT Saturday and will "remain in effect until revoked or modified by the Governor, who shall consult with the Commissioner of the Department of Health as appropriate" -- as stated in the order.

"You've been trusting us, and we will never forget that. We're returning some amount of that trust by saying we're going to open these up, but you've got to behave in a certain way. I am not trying to be a jerk about this, [but] if we see congregation of people and they're not social distancing, they're not wearing face masks, we will reconsider," Murphy said when announcing the order.

The executive order allows for the public to enjoy "passive" activities, such as fishing, hunting, biking, running, and birding at state parks. Specific areas in the parks will remain closed with the purposes of allowing social distancing guidelines to be properly observed.

"The following shall remain closed to the public at all state parks and forests: picnic areas, playgrounds, exercise stations and equipment, chartered watercraft services and rentals, swimming, pavilions, restrooms, and other buildings or facilities, including, but not limited to, visitor centers, interpretive centers, and interior historical sites," the order stated.

Parking at the parks will be limited to 50 percent capacity and picnicking is prohibited. The public will not be allowed to enter these state parks with blankets, chairs or coolers. Face masks are not a requirement at the parks, but the governor recommended the public wear them in areas where they cannot socially distance.

Golf courses are also allowed to reopen with conditions that include staggered tee times, so that they occur at minimum 16 minutes apart; limiting golf carts to one person at a time, unless the person is with other household members or a "romantic partner"; and discontinuing rentals of clubs and other equipment.

The staff at these facilities is required to "clean and disinfect high-touch areas routinely, and after each use, in accordance with CDC guidelines," such as restrooms and golf carts.

New York City also implemented measures to allow the public more space when visiting many of the city's parks by closing 7.2 miles of streets either inside parks or adjacent to them. The closures were to go into effect Monday, but Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted Friday that they would go into effect sooner "thanks to the quick work by the Department of Transportation, the Department of Parks and Recreation, and the New York City Police Department."

#OpenStreets are starting early!

Thanks to quick work by the @NYC_DOT, @NYCParks and @NYPDNews, we’re going to open up the first 7 miles of streets for pedestrians and cyclists SATURDAY.

PLEASE practice social distancing and stay safe.

— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) May 2, 2020

The six city parks that will close roadways to cars and open them to pedestrians include Fort Tryon Park, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Forest Park, Callahan-Kelly Park, Grant Park, and Silver Lake Park.

 Sunrise in New York City From the Reopened Liberty State Park in New Jersey
JERSEY CITY, NJ - MAY 2: Geese feed in a field as the sun rises behind the skyline of lower Manhattan, and One World Trade Center in New York City on May 2, 2020 as seen from the reopened Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey. New Jersey state parks reopened to the public on Saturday. (Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images) Gary Hershorn/Getty