BRICK – Governor Phil Murphy extended the New Jersey coronavirus public health emergency for another 30 days on May 6, but public recreation spaces are gradually reopening in town, although some activities won’t be permitted until further notice.
For example, township parks have reopened, but playground equipment, picnic tables, basketball courts, the skate park, and other activities requiring close contact is prohibited.
The parks may be used for walking, jogging, hiking and running. Tennis and pickleball courts are open. The dog park at Angela Hibbard Park was open, but was then closed by police after users did not follow social distancing guidelines. There is a possibility the dog park would reopen, said Police Chief James Riccio.
“All openings and closings will hinge on people’s actions and if the social distancing procedures are adhered to,” he said in a phone interview. “If people follow the guidelines, we could relax some restrictions,” he added.
Fishing is permitted at parks, in lakes and in the river.
The Mantoloking Bridge County Park (which is the only county park in Brick) is closed. Brick does not have any state parks, but the federal Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge is also closed.
The township bike paths, Airport Tract and Sawmill Tract, were reopened with the parks.
Mayor John G. Ducey announced that township beaches have opened, although they may only be accessed through Brick Beaches 1 and 2 since the parking lot at Brick Beach 3 is being repaved.
Brick Beach 1 and Windward Beach Park will be open to swimming on Memorial Day weekend, and all beaches will be open daily, beginning June 15.
New safety measures will be in place for beachgoers. They must adhere to social distancing guidelines, and the number of daily beach badges will be limited to prevent overcrowding.
The only activity that has been cancelled is the Memorial Day parade, which was to take place in May.
The sixth annual Farmers Market will be opening on Saturday May 16 at Windward Beach Park.
“There’s going to be a whole bunch of rules: you’re going to have to wear masks as customers; you’re going to have to go in one direction; and everything is going to be more spread out than it normally was,” the mayor said.
The market will have its usual selection of produce, flowers, sauces, syrups, crafts and much more, but vendors will be spaced 20 to 25 feet apart from each other in the grass field there, Ducey said.
The Brick Reservoir, which is owned by the Brick Township Municipal Utilities Authority, will remain closed for the time being.
In an email to Mayor Ducey, the Authority wrote “perhaps with an overabundance of caution, we have been advised to close the reservoir to the public for safety and social distancing purposes.”
While the site offers some park-like activities, it is not a traditional park, and added protections are needed for the site, which is a source for safe drinking water.
The MUA does not have a mechanism in place to monitor social-distancing measures, and is not able to control sanitizing bathrooms, handrails, portajohns, benches, gazebos and more, said the email.
Ducey said that the governing body is working on an ordinance that would allow outdoor dining for restaurants who have the capability for outside tables.
The mayor said that if it were up to him, many businesses, such as fabric stores, book stores, surf shops and more, would be allowed to open.
“Why in the world cannot a small business open up – or any business – with people wearing masks, people wearing gloves, one person doing money, one person doing the product,” he said.
He said it doesn’t make sense that you could get your bike fixed at a bike store but you can’t buy a bike. As of May 20, bicycle shops are able to reopen with new restrictions in place.
“Every business should be open, with the social distancing, with the masks, with the PPE (personal protective equipment) on,” he said. “Let’s go, let’s get things started.”