ROXBURY, NJ - Responding to Gov. Phil Murphy's relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions, Roxbury on Thursday reopened to the public municipal playgrounds that have been closed since mid-March.

Roxbury Township Manager John Shepherd said the township is adhering to U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance for the playground opening, particularly in terms of signs that instruct users on how to be safe while enjoying the attractions.

"Our signage, located at each playground, provides guidance on social distancing, supervision of children, recommendation of wearing face masks, not visiting the playground if sick and utilizing hand sanitizer or hand washing," Shepherd said.

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The manager said township officials are hoping for the best, but are a bit worried about parents rushing en masse to the long-shuttered play areas.

"Our primary concern is overcrowding at Imagination Station at Horseshoe Lake Park and to a lesser extent, the playground at Landing Park," Shepherd said. He noted that the playgrounds will receive regular visits by Roxbury police.

"In addition, beach staff will also assist with checking Imagination Station," Shepherd said. "With the assistance of our residents, we will be able to keep the playgrounds open."

The township volleyball and basketball courts remain closed and its recreation fields are only open for "non-contact" activity, "so no organized games yet," Shepherd said.

'We'll Get There'

In his press briefing on Wednesday, Murphy announced the reopening schedule with social distancing and face covering requirements in place for casinos, outdoor amusement parks and water parks, museums and libraries, indoor recreation and gyms/fitness centers (for individualized training by appointment only).

“We’re still moving forward as quickly as we can, but as safely as we must," Murphy said. "We’re being deliberate in our decisions. We continue to be guided by medical science and the on-the-ground data, both here and nationally.”

Meanwhile, officials have begun to crack down on businesses that are not adequately enforcing social distancing regulations. The governor reported that officials in Jersey City began legal actions against The Factory Restaurant and Lounge for what they say are regular violations.

“I applaud (Jersey City Mayor) Steven Fulop and (Jersey City Prosecutor) Jake Hudnut for their zero-tolerance approach, and urge other municipal officials to take a similar stance,” Murphy said.

“Indoor environments where it’s impossible to wear masks, or where people are sedentary for long periods of time without masks – such as gyms, bars, and restaurants – remain the most dangerous in terms of transmission,” Murphy said. “We’ll get there, based on data and health metrics.”

“There is still a lot we don’t know about coronavirus, but we know two things with absolute certainty: outdoor environments are safer than indoor environments, and wearing a face covering is safer than not wearing a face covering,” he added.

The governor took pride in announcing that CNN reported New Jersey was the only state besides Rhode Island to record a week-over-week reduction in new cases of 50 percent of more (according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins).

“We’ve put New Jersey at the top of the nation in terms of our response,” Murphy said, adding that “we are one of only four states currently on track to contain COVID-19," according to CovidActNow.

"We must stay in the green. Keep up with social distancing, wearing a face covering, washing your hands, and getting tested,” he advised.

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