NEW JERSEY - On Wednesday, Governor Murphy declared that effective Saturday morning, golf courses will be open on May 2 as well as other state parks. This news comes at as a relief to many in the state.
AT Wednesday's press conference, the governor said, "I do have a few announcements to make today - first I am signing an executive order reopening our state parks and allowing for golf courses to reopen. This order will take effect at sunrise on the Saturday, May 2 and this will bring is in line with our neighboring states. As I previously said I did not want to see us in a situation where residents would be needlessly crossing state lines in either direction."
The governor further elaborated, "County governments will regain the authority to decide whether county parks will be open or closed - now to be clear we cannot have everyone rush out to a park or golf course - social distancing will be strongly enforced, and we expect golf course personnel to enforce this requirement."
Parking will be capped at 50% of capacity and the governor reserved the right to change course if social distancing is not maintained. There has been significant pressure to open up the state, however, the governor said it is the science that resulted in the changes.
"We would ask you - we can't make you do this, but we want you to stay close to home, so if you choose to go to a park beginning Saturday at sunrise, go to one nearby. Playgrounds and pavilions including by the way visitor centers and restrooms must be closed - picnics or otherwise other organized activities and team sports, sadly, will be prohibited and our reopening comes with a strong recommendation that everyone wears a face covering with social distancing measures."
Some measures were strong recommendations, not a mandate. Importantly, face coverings are the major one. "I have not mandated this as part of the executive order but it is a strong recommendation that you will cover your face. Judy and I reserve the right to mandate that and will be working very closely this weekend on how people adhere to these social distancing guidelines. But for passive recreation, including running and hiking, biking, fishing, boating kayaking and horseback riding come Saturday morning our state parks will be open once again."
Murphy spoke out against criticism and said the pressure he has received did not factor into it.
"Your interventions to me did not matter one little bit so, with all due respect, all the pressure that's been out there, we make this call based on data, science, fact, and again, the exception is also on mental health. Trust me, I did not order these closures on a whim they were made only after detailed discussions particular with the likes of the folks on my right with our public health especially our public health and public safety personnel - our goal has been simple and clear and that is to slow the spread and decrease the rate of infection in the absence of either a vaccine or proven therapeutics." said Murphy.