Murphy: State and county parks, golf courses, will reopen at sunrise on Saturday

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Gov. Phil Murphy (D) has announced that state and county parks, along with golf courses, will reopen on Saturday after he signs a new executive order later today.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“Today, I will sign an executive order to reopen New Jersey’s state parks [and] allow golf courses and county parks to reopen,” the governor tweeted minutes ago.

“This order will take effect at sunrise on Saturday, May 2nd. Social distancing will continue to be mandated.”

During his daily press briefing in Trenton, Murphy said picnics, team sports, and other group activities are still prohibited, parking is capped at 50 percent capacity, and face masks are recommended.

On Saturday, while Murphy said he had no problem with mayors deciding to gradually reopen their municipal parks, such as in Jersey City, he said no such plans were in place for state and county parks – a stance he reiterated as recently as yesterday.

Minutes ago, he emphasized that this decision did not come as the result of political pressure.

“I don’t know how to say this delicately, but with the exception of the mental health case that many of you have come my way, your interventions to me did not matter one little bit,” Murphy stated.

“So with all due respect to the pressure that’s been out there, we couldn’t, frankly, care. We make this call based on science, data, fact, and again, the exception is also on mental health.”

On Twitter, Jersey City Mayor Fulop applauded the governor’s call.

“Opening worked in #JerseyCity + good to see a change from @GovMurphy
previous position. Parks should be open + we need to continue moving in a positive direction (carefully) but moving,” Fulop wrote.

“There’s no risk free environment but we can trust residents that they’ll make smart choices.”

Friends of Liberty State Park President Sam Pesin also expressed enthusiasm about the decision.

“I thank Governor Murphy for this sensible and carefully-thought out decision. LSP’s re-opening will be beneficial to urban residents of all ages who can enjoy the park’s open space and nature, especially with the spring flowers and Lady Liberty nearby,” he told HCV.

Murphy closed state and county parks via a directive on April 7th, about a week after weighing in to make sure the Skyway Golf Course closed since they’re a non-essential business.

“We’re happy the governor is doing this, but we will still be keeping activities like basketball, tennis, little league, and other sports on hold. But people that want to stroll or jog while using social distancing, we’ll certainly permit that,” said Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise.

“We’re relieved that it’s starting to ease up and for the general public, it’s something to say ‘yay’ about, we’re moving in the right direction.”

He added that today, county officials will be reaching out to local mayors to make sure they are on board with the reopening of their county parks within their municipalities.

Yesterday, the mayors of Hoboken, Weehawken, Union City, North Bergen, Guttenberg, and West New York announced that they would take a “regional approach” to reopening their parks and did not set a timetable for when that would happen.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information.