SOMERSET, NJ - Gov. Phil Murphy's welcome announcement Wednesday that state and county parks would re-open May 2 brought some good news to many New Jersey residents.

Though parks can re-open, some infrastructure will remain closed and will be off-limits - visitor centers, restrooms, picnic areas and playgrounds - while biking, hiking, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, running and horseback riding will be permitted.

Social distancing must be practiced and park visitors are requested to continue wearing masks, according to Murphy, who made the formal announcement at Wednesday's press briefing after releasing the news on social media platforms a few hours earlier.

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Today the Township of Franklin announced all parks and open space properties will open at sunrise on May 2. However, residents are expected to engage in the following passive recreational activities in which social distancing can be readily achieved:

a. Fishing;

b. Hiking;

c. Walking;

d. Running or jogging;

e. Biking;

f. Birding; and

g. Horseback riding (permit previously issued required)

h. All other Township Park and Open Space property rules and regulations defined in Chapter 260 of the Township Code shall be in effect.

The following shall remain closed to the public at all Township Parks and Open Space properties:

a. Picnic areas;

b. Playgrounds;

c. Exercise stations and equipment;

d. Swimming;

e. Pavilions;

f. Restrooms; and

g. Other buildings or facilities, including, but not limited to, visitor centers, interpretive centers, and interior historical sites.

The following recommendations and policies shall apply to all Township Parks and Open Space properties:

a. No organized or contact activities or sports shall be allowed

b. Employees and visitors should wear cloth face coverings while in the Township Park or Open Space property in all settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, except where doing so would inhibit that individual’s health or where the individual is under two years of age;

c. Available parking must be limited at all Township Parks and Open Space properties at 50% of the maximum capacity at one time, and visitors shall be prohibited from parking in undesignated areas, including in roadways and other undesignated areas;

d. No picnicking shall be allowed, including on picnic blankets in signed picnic areas, and no picnic blankets, chairs, coolers, and other such personal property shall be carried into any Township Parks and Open Space properties;

e. Consistent with Paragraph 3 of Executive Order No. 107 (2020), visitors must practice social distancing excluding immediate family members, caretakers, household members, or romantic partners;

f. Consistent with Paragraph 5 of Executive Order No. 107 (2020), gatherings of individuals, including in parks, are prohibited.