HOBOKEN - Mayor Ravi Bhalla has reversed his call to reopen playgrounds in Hoboken after word came down from the Governor that the plan was premature.

"Given the progress we’ve made in Hoboken, low new infection rates and sanitizing procedures we put in place, we made the initial decision to open playgrounds this Thursday, which we announced on social media yesterday," said Bhalla, in his statement Monday night. "After Governor Murphy’s office reached out [Monday], the State has respectfully asked us to postpone playground re-openings until the Governor gives the go ahead for this to occur for the entire State."

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), children do not appear to be at higher risk for COVID-19 than adults. While some children and infants have been sick with COVID-19, adults make up most of the known cases to date.

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"While we had no indication that this was not in our authority," said Bhalla, "out of respect to the Governor’s phased approach, we have agreed to wait for the State to make this re-opening decision before re-opening playgrounds."

A recent CDC statement from May 20 said, "If children meet in groups, it can put everyone at risk. Children can pass this virus onto others who may be at higher risk, including older adults and people who have serious underlying medical conditions."

There are obviously plenty of challenges when it comes to COVID-proofing a hands-on facility such as a children's playground. While Bhalla claimed City staff would "sanitize the equipment before a re-opening and on a regular basis," the Mayor's plan had put a lot of emphasis on individual preventative measures.

In his previous statement, Bhalla had said, "given the challenges of social distancing, we are recommending children above 2 years old wear face masks," adding, "We also suggest to parents to bring sanitizer to the park, and go to the playground during early morning and off-peak hours." The Mayor had also asked parents and guardians to "Please also limit time to 1 hour at the playground to help minimize overcrowding."

The initial plan to reopen playgrounds on Thursday has been postponed indefinitely.

"We continue to evaluate ways to resume recreation options for children in a socially distanced, non-contact manner," said Bhalla.

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