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In what could set a precedent for the region, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said Friday that he expected the state’s beaches to open by Memorial Day but with certain restrictions to protect against further spread of the coronavirus.
“I will be shocked if our beaches are not open, but with very specific guidance, just as we opened county and state parks,” Murphy said during a morning interview with NJTV. “You should expect we’ll give guidance on beaches before Memorial Day.”
Murphy said that he envisioned controlling capacity by limiting parking, a measure used when the state recently reopened state and county parks.
“Look for us to be doing things along those lines,” he said.
Not all beaches are governed by the state; some come under municipal control, where responses to the pandemic have varied. Some New Jersey town beaches have remained open, while others have closed. The same has been true in Connecticut.
Murphy said he has had “high level of communication” with municipal leaders.
To date, New Jersey has 133,635 confirmed coronavirus cases, the highest caseload in the country after New York. At least 8,800 people in the state have died from the disease.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has yet to announce whether New York beaches would open for the summer. But he has said that New York, New Jersey and Connecticut should coordinate their actions on reopenings. Cuomo has established health and testing guidelines for some regions in the state to reopen certain industries as early as May 15th.
Connecticut, which has relatively few cases compared to New York and New Jersey, is expected to open some businesses, including hair and nail salons, outdoor restaurants and outdoor recreation facilities like camping and hiking areas on May 20th.
With the warm weather approaching and people getting cabin fever, the reopenings will pose a major test for the region. Cuomo has specifically cited beaches as “attractive nuisances” because they typically draw people from across the tri-state region.
Meanwhile, Mayor Bill de Blasio has indicated he would be open to allowing beaches to reopen as long as the virus continues to show signs of declining.
As opposed to workplaces, Murphy argued that the reopening of beaches would not require the state to have contact tracing in place to control infections.
Rather, he said beachgoers simply needed to adhere to basic social distancing guidelines.
“Don’t be a knucklehead, stay away from each other,” he said.