SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- While Gov. Phil Murphy spent part of his daily coronavirus update press conference on Saturday warning that the state will "have blood on our hands" if social distancing regulations are eased, one local lawmaker has begun a petition to rescind the executive order that closed state parks.
"We have not yet plateaued. We are memorializing patients
Republican Assemblyman Jay Webber of New Jersey's 26th Legislative District, which includes parts of Essex, Morris and Passaic Counties, is spearheading an online petition calling on the governor to "Please rescind Executive Order 118 closing the parks immediately."
Your decision to close our State parks, however, is wrong for public health and our State’s residents. Your complete closure of parks appears to be based purely on anecdote and without any data or health science to support that decision. As you have repeatedly observed, access to fresh air and exercise for our citizenry, especially during this stressful time, is paramount. For that reason, safely and responsibly using our State’s open spaces should continue to be encouraged, not prohibited.
We see no reason why State Parks cannot remain open, with appropriate social distancing and other common-sense measures kept in place. Break up and prevent use of the parks that violate those guidelines, as you should. Keep state restrooms and facilities closed, we understand. But do not close the parks altogether. -- Assemblyman Jay Webber's online petition
"We believe strongly that what we're doing... is what we need to do to keep people safe, keep them out of hospitals and ultimately keep them alive. We wouldn't be doing it if we didn't do otherwise," Gov. Murphy said during his press conference on Saturday. "Think about that for a second. Why the heck would we make you not go to a park if we didn't think we weren't trying to protect the general public health of the state? It makes no sense."
"We didn't run on an anti-park platform. This is doing the right thing to keep people safe, keep them out of hospitals, and keep them alive," Murphy added.
“We’re not asking for the parks and the forests in the state to be open without restrictions. What we’re asking for is to help craft a common-sense policy on our parks and forests,” said Webber at a teleconference last week. “We have 9 million residents in the most densely populated state in the union, and it simply can’t be that the safest number of residents who can use those parks, over a half million acres, is zero. There has to be a number between zero and 9 million that makes sense for the people of New Jersey.”
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