MORRISTOWN, NJ - Right about now, Patrick Tierney would be getting his firefighter’s uniform ready for the Memorial Day parade. On the day of the event, he’d start off at the Morris Township Town Hall, march up Woodland Avenue to a wreath-laying ceremony at Headquarters Plaza.
Honoring those who have died serving their country means a lot to the community, Tierney said, because it is a chance to “keep their memories alive.”
But the Memorial Day weekend has another meaning to many people. It is also the start of summer. Typically, schools give extended weekends, and employers give their employees the day off.
Not this year.
The coronavirus pandemic has canceled all kinds of plans. There won’t be a parade or many of the usual festivities.
Hart Coven, a longtime resident of Morris Township, was supposed to be celebrating his son Brian’s college graduation this weekend. Then he might typically go to the beach, or enjoy a barbecue with friends. This year, he will be staying home, hanging up an American flag, and practicing social distancing.
“We’re being responsible, not fearful,” Coven said.
The Covid-19 pandemic has led to plans being changed across New Jersey, and the country. On March 21, Gov. Phil Murphy issued an executive order to make people stay at home and to urge residents to do their best to mitigate the spread by social distancing and wearing masks while in public. Now, two months later, with the number of cases dropping each day, Gov. Murphy has taken small steps towards reopening. On May 22 he issued an executive order allowing for the beaches and their boardwalks to open starting this weekend.
But he wants everyone to know, that the virus is still here, and that they need to continue to be careful.
Gov. Murphy said in a statement that he made his decision based on data, and that “we feel comfortable that we can begin to resume certain outdoor business operations and activities with social distancing measures in place.” However, he cautioned that if there is “knucklehead behavior” that leads to a spike in cases, he will reimpose restrictions on movement.
In Morristown and the surrounding areas, while the Ginty, Streeter, and Burnham pools will all be closed, officials have agreed to open the parks including tennis courts. But like the governor, our town officials are hoping people continue to act responsibly.
Samantha Hartman, an Administrative Assistant at Morris Township’s Parks and Recreation Department said she urges people to continue to practice social distancing and wear their masks so as not to “not ruin it for everyone.”
Morristown’s Mayor Tim Doughtery had a similar message for the town.
"Our overall numbers are coming down," said Dougherty in a statement, adding that people need to wear masks and socially distance. “I can't stress it enough. I’m telling you that it's for your protection and other people's protection. We need to continue to do what we have been doing. So if you are in Morristown or if you are visiting Morristown, please wear face protection.”
While many people will probably take advantage of the looser restrictions, others are planning to focus on staying safe, and staying home.
Camilla Cardona, 19, was going to spend the weekend barbecuing down at the beach with her friends, but will now stay at home and watch Netflix instead. Her concern is that “people are losing the morale to stay inside” said Camilla.
In this era of social media, it is easy to see that she is right because people are posting pictures showing that they are not following the state guidelines, but rather they are going out and deciding to take the risk to be with one another.
Another Morris Township resident, Lindsay Schartner, a teacher and soccer coach at West Morris Mendham High School, would normally be spending the weekend taking her son to soccer tournaments. Instead she and her family will follow all of the state guidelines and she said she “just hopes that people are willing to sacrifice for the good things we have.”
That is what is being asked of everyone right now, which is sacrifice. Everyone does have the ability to go out, but it is necessary to follow the safety guidelines because the virus is still there.
As states start to slowly open up it is important to know one thing said, Parick Tierney.“People think we’re close to the end, but we're not.”
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