Jersey City opens some parks, LBI beach reopens to residents
As the weather gets warmer, at least one beach and several parks are reopening.
Gov. Phil Murphy issued an executive order closing state and county parks to discourage gatherings to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The order did not cover municipalities although many followed suit.
Ship Bottom on Long Beach Island this weekend reopened its beaches to residents and property owners for walking and jogging. The municipality provides residents and owners with a placard that can be used by up to two adults at a time and may be used by a family member, caretaker, household member or romantic partner. They may also bring children to the beach.
Dogs are welcome on the beach until May 1, when a separate ordinance already in place takes effect.
Swimming, surfing and water sports are prohibited and beach chairs are not allowed. Surf fishing will be allowed between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
The placards were issued when a local emergency order was issued March 24 closing the beaches allowing what the borough called "disaster re-entry" to the beach area.
Jersey City will reopen some of it's larger parks for the first time since March while maintaining social distancing protocols starting Monday, according to a weekly newsletter sent by the mayor to residents. Use of playgrounds and basketball courts will still be restricted.
The parks to be reopened are Enos Jones Park, Berry Lane Park, Audubon Park, Leonard Gordon Park and Pershing Field
"After nearly two months of quarantine, there’s also a mental and physical health aspect that needs to be considered, and we know we can’t ask our residents, who rely on parks for outdoor access, to stay inside indefinitely. We believe now is an appropriate time to responsibly provide residents with that public health outlet in a controlled setting, especially as the weather warms," Mayor Steven Fulop said in a written statement.
The parks will be deep cleaned before opening and police will be limiting access if crowds become too large or behavior is inappropriate. Restrooms and indoor facilities will remain closed.
"We aren’t pushing to abruptly do what Georgia did with carelessly opening everything BUT we also need to slowly shift the conversation towards a gradual return to living life. Careful 'baby steps' forward," Fulop wrote on his Twitter account.
Liberty State Park in Jersey City is a state park and remains closed per Murphy's executive order.
The mayor also announced the cancellation of the city's annual Fourth of July fireworks display because the money used for the celebration can be better spent.
"In this environment we are making choices on what is needed for our community . We will be back in 2021 with a bigger celebration though," Fulop tweeted, adding that he asked the display's sponsors to make a donation to the city's Covid Relief Fund.
Perth Amboy and South Amboy have canceled their joint Fourth of July fireworks plus the Perth Amboy Waterfront Arts Festival, the Puerto Rican Festival and the Dominican Festival.
"As we continue to learn more about the coronavirus, the mayor made the very difficult decision to cancel these events," city spokeswoman Cristina Pinzon told New Jersey 101.5 in a statement.
"Thousands of people attend these events each year and it would be very difficult to practice social distancing and protect everyone’s well-being."
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