Most parks in New Jersey will be closed in a measure aimed at slowing the spread of the CCP virus.
The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, causes a disease called COVID-19 that kills a small percentage of patients, primarily among the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced Tuesday he will sign an executive order mandating the closure of all state parks and forests and all county parks.
“We’ve seen far too many instances in our parks where people are gathering and socializing in groups, erroneously thinking that since they’re outside, social distancing doesn’t matter,” the Democrat said at a press conference.
Social distancing measures include staying at home except for essential trips and remaining six feet away from others.
“I do not take this action lightly. Some of my fondest memories with my own children are beautiful spring days in parks playing soccer and enjoying our family. But my focus, and my sole mission in life right now, is the health of every New Jersey family,” he added on Twitter.
Murphy said the move was meant to flatten the curve, referring to the projected rise, peak, and fall of COVID-19 cases. People can still take bike rides and undertake other forms of exercise that meet the distancing guidelines. Municipalities will determine whether local parks will be kept open.
The governor said at a press conference that officials were beginning to see “the very first potential signs that the curve may be flattening” but urged state residents to continue avoiding contact with people who they don’t live with.
His new order will be one of the strictest in the nation. Some 42 governors have issued orders for residents to stay at home but all allow people to go outside for exercise and few restrict usage of parks and forests. Neighboring New York has kept parks open, though Gov. Andrew Cuomo closed all playgrounds and basketball courts.
New Jersey is one of the most affected states in the nation, counting 44,416 confirmed cases and 1,232 deaths as of the afternoon of April 7.
Murphy previously ordered schools to close, non-essential businesses to shut down, and people to stay home except for essential trips.
New Jersey authorities have aggressively enforced Murphy’s orders, publicly naming people law enforcement has arrested for violating them. The state’s top law enforcement official, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, publishes the information on his website.
The latest arrests included a man in Kearny who was allegedly pulling on car door handles and coughed at officers when being arrested; a woman in Morristown who authorities said held a party at her house with more than 10 people; and three people who were charged with violating emergency orders after officers found them in a vehicle at a boat launch.