BLOOMFIELD, NJ – Days after Governor Phil Murphy announced that New Jersey state parks, county parks and golf courses could reopen for passive recreation, Bloomfield residents flocked to Brookdale Park this past weekend to enjoy outdoor exercise.
The Governor announced last Wednesday that an executive order would take effect at sunrise on Saturday allowing the opening of the parks, however social distancing measures remain in effect.
“Social distancing will be strictly enforced,” Murphy said in a press briefing. “We cannot have everyone rushing out to a park or golf course.”
Following Murphy's mid-week announcement, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo added that facial coverings would also be required.
Brookdale Park, part of the Essex County Parks System, was among the county parks that was forced to close April 7.
On Saturday and Sunday, residents enjoyed walking, jogging, running, kicking a soccer ball around, and playing catch with baseballs and softballs. During our Sunday visit, park visitors were respecting the mandated guidelines as temperatures soared to a sun-soaked 80 degrees.
Essex County Sherriff’s patrol vehicles circled the park and closely trailed residents along the asphalt walking path. Constant reminders were also made from a public address system reminding visitors to keep their distance from one another and to keep their faces covered.
Passive recreation activities permitted in county parks include running, hiking, biking, kayaking, boating, horseback riding and fishing.
Restrictions include parking lot capacity capped at 50%, and playgrounds, pavilions, visitor centers and restrooms remain closed.
Picnics, organized activities, and organized/team sports are also prohibited.
The status of municipal parks remains to the discretion of local town governments.