New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy decided to reopen his state’s parks and golf courses as part of a general easing of restrictions that have been in place since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic began sickening and killing people in the United States.
In an effort to take bi-partisan credit for the reopening, Democratic and Republic lawmakers thanked the governor for heeding their begging and persuading they have engaged in over the past three weeks. But the Murphy begged to differ that the legislators had anything to do with his decision.
“I don’t know how to say this delicately but, with the exception of the mental health case that many of you have [made], your interventions to me did not matter one little bit,” Murphy explained during his daily press briefing in Trenton. “With all due respect to all the pressure that’s been out there, we couldn’t frankly care.”
Despite Murphy’s clear statement, the president of the Senate, Steve Sweeney, released a statement that thanked the governor for “listening to the bi-partisan legislators and thousands of state residents” to once again open the parks and golf courses.
Republican lawmaker, Assemblyman Jay Webber of Morris County, who was against the closures from the get-go, issued a statement announcing the win for his work getting the parks opened.
Governor Murphy explained that what persuaded him to reopen the parks was not connected to the begging or cajoling of residents and lawmakers, but rather the fact that nearby states have also decided to reopen their parks. Now that parks are reopening in Pennsylvania and New York, he feels when he opens New Jersey parks, they will not be overrun with visitors from out of state.
He emphasized that local officials will be carefully monitoring the golf courses and parks to make sure visitors are following all the social distance guidelines to keep residents safe from COVID-19.
“If we don’t like what we see, I reserve the right to reverse the executive order I signed today,” he said.