Murphy: Boardwalk rides to open July 2; Jersey Shore bars warned on overcrowding

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Jenkinson's beach and boardwalk in Point Pleasant Beach opened back up to the public on May 29. The governor said boardwalk rides, but not arcades, may open on July 2. (MARK R. SULLIVAN/THE OCEAN STAR)

TRENTON — Amusement parks, boardwalk rides and playgrounds may reopen on Thursday, July 2, in time for the Fourth of July holiday, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Tuesday.

“It’s just a coincidence that it’s a scorcher outside today. But, today, we are announcing that outdoor amusement parks and water parks will be able to reopen next Thursday, July 2nd. This includes the rides on our boardwalks,” Gov. Murphy said during his daily coronavirus conference. The reopening does not yet include indoor arcades.

Detailed health protocols will be issued later this week, but they are to include the wearing of face masks, rides configured for social distancing, increased sanitation and 50 percent capacity limits.

“Those are part of the norm going forward,” he said. “But with next week’s July 4th holiday weekend rapidly approaching, and with families rightfully looking for ways to enjoy their time off together, we wanted to make it known that, yes, the rides will be in operation. But, moreover, we want everyone to enjoy their time together responsibly.”

On Monday, the governor announced that on July 2, horse racetracks and Atlantic City casinos may welcome gamblers back inside at limited capacities.

But the governor also warned against “knucklehead” behavior as exhibited on viral videos over the weekend at Jersey Shore bars, with crowding and no face masks worn.

“I know the last thing anyone wants is a face-covering tan. I know many people think that just because the weather is hot, they can’t catch the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. I know many young people think this virus isn’t after them. In every case, you are wrong.

“We’re beginning to see the rate of transmission creep back up in too many counties,” Gov. Murphy said. “There is absolutely no reason for this to be. Anyone becoming complacent, crowding around bars and restaurants unmasked, can lead to this.

“What we cannot have is a one-day increase turn into a trend because people gave up on social distancing and wearing face coverings and washing their hands with soap and water.

Be smart and courteous. The world is not just about you, it’s about all 9 million of us,” he said.

Jersey Shore bars warned on crowding

“If we see businesses refuse to comply with the common sense and live-saving guidance that we have put in place, we will have no choice but to begin making examples of them,” the governor warned.

As in many other states, New Jersey is beginning to see a rise in positive test results among young people ages 18 to 29, state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said.

 “Many of these individuals have not had any symptoms, so they are unaware that they are contributing to the spread of this virus. In April, this age group represented 12 percent of the cases. That has risen to 22 percent of the cases in June,” Ms. Persichilli said. 

“We are concerned about his trend. We are especially concerned about gatherings we saw this weekend at the Jersey Shore. Individuals were packed together at these locations, which raises the risk of spreading COVID-19 to one another and then to the wider community. 

“People of any age can get severe illness from COVID-19. More than 640 residents between the ages of 18 and 29 have been hospitalized because of complications from this virus and there have been more than 50 deaths in this age group” in New Jersey, she said. 

“This age group can spread the virus to more vulnerable populations … This certainly is a time for the younger generation to give back to everyone around them and to the older generations,” by taking precautions, she said.

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