POINT PLEASANT BEACH – An official with the State Health Department said that protesters at a rally to reopen the state should watch for symptoms of COVID-19.
Reportedly, about a thousand people attended the rally on Memorial Day. Many were not wearing masks nor were they social distancing.
Donna Leusner, Director of Communications for the NJ Department of Health said that people at the protest should consider keeping an eye on their own health, and look out for symptoms of COVID-19 (which include fever, cough or shortness of breath) for the next two weeks.
While there was a protester who told a reporter he had coronavirus, the state has no way of knowing if this is true or if he had prolonged close contact with anyone else there, she said.
“Regardless, those at the protest still should take precautions regarding face coverings, social distancing, hygiene, etc., and should consider self-monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19,” she said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that for some people the symptoms are like having a cold. For others they are quite severe or life threatening.
The protest was organized on Facebook by a group called ReopenNJ, who have been pushing for Gov. Phil Murphy to lift restrictions regarding social distancing and closing non-essential businesses.
Most attendees expressed concern about the economic health of the country, particularly small businesses that have had to shut down and have been hurt by coronavirus guidelines. Others were skeptical of the impact of the pandemic. Others felt the country should never have been shut down and cited the Constitution as being violated by the governor. They called his actions an overreach of authority.
The rally drew a number of business owners and politicians.
Ryan Christopher and Jessica Courtney are the administrators of ReopenNJ. “We started this group less than two months ago with just the idea of bringing together a community that could help inform each other and stand up for our freedom and our rights,” Christopher said.
“We have since taken a lot of heat for standing up for what we believe in from family and others alike. We are considering camping in front of Murphy’s place on the sidewalk. Since his order made us homeless it would only seem right,” said Christopher.
Christopher added, “luckily we have a very supporting community here in ReopenNJ that has helped us with a place to stay and are currently helping donate to our fund to keep us going.”
Christopher said his group wished to see a strong focus on the business owners “who are opening and rising against these insane orders while still opening safely. We gain courage from the courage of every member who speaks their voice.”
-Bob Vosseller contributed to this story