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States across the country have put in place a wide range of societal restrictions to fight the spread of COVID-19. Among the states with the strictest social distancing guidelines is New Jersey. On April 7, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 118, which closed all state parks, forests and county parks to support social distancing measures.
When Republican Assemblyman Jay Webber of New Jersey's 26th Legislative District found out about the restrictions, he immediately started an online petition to reverse the order. His petition has garnered over 12,500 signatures as of April 28, and he urges people to continue to sign.
“Being outdoors in the fresh air, in the sunlight, it’s a good place for people to be. It's good for their physical health, it's good for their mental health. And we should be encouraging people to get outside. Not closing down parks and restricting them from getting outside,” Webber told Fox News.
Currently, New Jersey is the only state in the Northeast to close all of its state parks. Webber told Fox News he reached out to the governor’s office and requested to see data that supported the reasoning behind the park closures but never received any documentation.
“When you don't produce the documents that are supposed to be supporting this data-driven or science-driven decision, I don't know what to say other than it's been a bad decision,” said Webber.
While Jersey City and Rockaway announced they will open some local parks for restricted use this week, New Jersey residents should not get too excited. Despite countless calls to reverse his order, Gov. Murphy has yet to offer a specific date on when state parks will reopen.