New Jersey governor says he'd be 'shocked' if state's beaches not open by Memorial Day weekend

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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said he would be "shocked" if the state's beaches are not reopened in time for Memorial Day weekend.

But he warned that some restrictions will remain in place because of the coronavirus, according to a report.

“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 live interview with NJTV. “You should expect we’ll give guidance on beaches before Memorial Day.”

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The opening of beaches and boardwalks is technically up to local governments, an NJ.com report said. Some have remained open during the COVID-19 restrictions, but others have been shuttered. As governor, Murphy has final say on their opening and any social-distancing guidelines.

In addition, Murphy said nonessential functions – such as nonfood curbside pickups, construction and elective surgeries -- are also under consideration for resuming soon, the report said.

“Could I see sooner than later opening for curbside pickup, just as we’re doing, for instance, with food? I could see that. Bear with us on that. I hope to have some guidance in the next week or so,” he said.

“Could I see sooner than later opening for curbside pickup, just as we’re doing, for instance, with food? I could see that. Bear with us on that. I hope to have some guidance in the next week or so.” 

— New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy
Gov. Phil Murphy, D-N.J., listens to President Trump during a meeting at the White House, April 30, 2020, in Washington. (Associated Press)

Gov. Phil Murphy, D-N.J., listens to President Trump during a meeting at the White House, April 30, 2020, in Washington. (Associated Press)

Murphy hedged his bets when discussing summer camps, saying he “can see very clearly a lot of degrees of freedom in an outdoor camp.”

“(But) what I can’t see are 50 kids and counselors jammed into a bus to get there in the morning and get back at the end of the day,” Murphy said. “Particularly given folks can spread this virus even when they’re asymptomatic unwittingly to a generation that’s more at risk or somebody with other health challenges,” NJ.com reported.

This week, the governor provided slight glimpses into his thinking about how he may continue to revoke the orders, requiring residents to stay home, ban gatherings and mandate nonessential businesses to close. However, he did not provide any specifics to his plan.

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“There are a whole series of steps that we are looking at that we may be able to take before we have everything in place,” Murphy told NJTV.

On Thursday, the state reported an additional 254 deaths attributed to the virus, bringing the statewide total to at least 8,801 fatalities, the second-most among American states, the report said. But officials also note that daily cases and hospitalizations continue to drop.

Last weekend, Murphy began loosening restrictions, allowing state and county parks, as well as golf courses, to reopen with social distancing guidelines in place.

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Since the easing, lawmakers, businesses and residents have called on him to remove more restrictions as the state’s economy sputters, NJ.com reported. More than 1 million residents have filed unemployment claims, according to new numbers released Thursday.
On Thursday, he said beaches would likely have similar restrictions to parks — including parking restrictions holding vehicles at 50% capacity and visitors required to stay 6 feet from each other.

“Don’t be a knucklehead, stay away from each other, don’t congregate,” Murphy said.