Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order this week reopening state parks and golf courses as of sunrise on Saturday, May 2. The order restores county authority to open and close parks. Mercer County has announced that county parks and golf courses will re-open on the same day.
State Parks and Forests: The order allows state parks and forests to open to the public for passive recreation, including fishing, hunting, boating, canoeing, hiking, walking, running or jogging, biking, birding, and horseback riding. Picnic areas, playgrounds, exercise stations and equipment, chartered watercraft services and rentals, swimming, pavilions, restrooms, and other buildings and facilities, such as visitor centers, interpretive centers, and interior historical sites, remain closed. To limit physical interaction, state parks and forests must implement reasonable restrictions that include:
- Limiting parking to 50% of maximum capacity and prohibiting parking in undesignated areas;
- Prohibiting picnics;
- Requiring social distancing to be practiced except with immediate family members, caretakers, household members, or romantic partners; and
- Banning organized or contact activities or sports; and gatherings of any kind.
The order also recommends that people wear a cloth face covering while in public settings at the parks and forests where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
County and municipal parks that remain open must abide by the restrictions above placed on state parks.
All recreational campgrounds and transient campsites at campgrounds will remain closed to the public. Residential campgrounds, including mobile home parks, condo sites, and existing 2020 yearly seasonal contract sites can remain open. Counties and municipalities can also place restrictions on the ability of residential campgrounds, including mobile home parks, to accept new transient guests or seasonal tenants.
Golf Courses: The order also opens golf courses as long as they adopt minimum social distancing policies that include:
- Implementing electronic or telephone reservation and payment systems while still providing options for populations that do not have access to internet service or credit cards;
- Extending tee times to sixteen minutes apart;
- Limiting the use of golf carts to one person unless being shared by immediate family members, caretakers, household members, or romantic partners;
- Requiring frequent, and after each use, sanitization of high-touch areas such as restroom facilities, range buckets, golf carts, and push carts;
- Restricting the touching of golf holes and flags;
- Closing golf center buildings, pro shops, and other buildings and amenities;
- Removing bunker rakes and other furniture-like benches, water coolers, and ball washers from the course;
- Discontinuing club and equipment rentals;
- Prohibiting the use of caddies; and
- Limiting tee times to two players unless the foursome consists of immediate family, caretakers, household members or romantic partners.
Golf course owners can impose additional restrictions as necessary to limit person-to-person interactions. The order also recommends, but does not order, that employees, players, and other individuals on the golf course wear cloth face coverings while on the golf course. Miniature golf courses and driving ranges remain closed.