By Jesse Stiller
Nation & World Editor
Gov. Phil Murphy made an announcement on May 14, according to NJ.com, to reopen New Jersey beaches, beginning the process of re-opening the state to its “new normal.” The order went into effect on May 22, the weekend of the unofficial start of the summer. The governor also recently allowed high schools to host in-person graduation ceremonies starting July 6, according to NorthJersey.com.
Under the new executive order, all private and public boardwalks and beaches as well as lakes and lakeshores were allowed to open as long as spaces are maintained with the current restrictions. Areas such as pavilions, picnic areas and indoor recreational areas were still closed, and areas that were open were strongly advised to control density and entrance points as well as mark six feet of spacing between areas to indicate social distancing.
The governor also recently allowed high schools to host in-person graduation ceremonies starting July 6, according to NorthJersey.com.
The executive order described the reopening of beaches as “a way to enhance physical and mental health, while maintaining reasonable restrictions to help limit the spread and prevent future outbreaks of COVID-19 and protect the health, safety and welfare of New Jersey residents.”
According to CBS2 New York, the order provided guidelines for local municipalities to follow, and the municipalities had the freedom to set their own rules and regulations as long as they followed the order under the state.
While the order was universally welcomed by residents following a near-total lockdown in the state for the past two months, Murphy elaborated at his daily COVID-19 briefing, according to WHYY, that the order would be the beginning of a “‘new normal’” at the Jersey Shore for the summer season.
The move came as other states, such as Connecticut and New York, according to Forbes, began to reopen their beaches for residents and tourists in time for the holiday weekend. Cuomo also ordered that beaches could not exceed 50 percent capacity at any time, and would be enforced at entry and exit points.
In addition to the opening of the beaches, Gov. Murphy signed an executive order that increased outdoor gatherings to 25 on May 22, according to NBC10 Philadelphia. The governor also opened batting cages, community gardens and shooting ranges as part of an expanded opening of outdoor recreational activities, according to NJ.com.
Murphy credited the data, showing a gradual and consistent drop in hospitalizations, ventilator usage and patients in critical care.
“‘This is why we need to keep up with social distancing, even as we begin our restart and recovery,’” he said, according to NPR.
The state is continuing to slowly move toward a “Phase 2” reopening, in which outdoor dining, limited indoor dining and personal care would open back up, according to NorthJersey.com.This would also allow for libraries and museums to reopen as well.
While Murphy has expressed enthusiasm and optimism with the data so far. He told CNBC on May 21 that these businesses, including gyms, would be able to reopen in “‘a matter of weeks,’” but offered no solid date as to when that may be.