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New Jersey Water Parks, Amusement Parks Can Reopen Before July 4th

Rides and slides will be open, but with social-distancing measures in place starting July 2

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What to Know

  • Gov. Phil Murphy says amusement and water parks, along with playgrounds across New Jersey can reopen on July 2 from the COVID-19 pause. 
  • Murphy said Tuesday the parks must limit capacity to 50% and face masks must be worn by workers and attendees “where practicable.”
  • Health officials on Tuesday also noted a "concerning" trend about an increase of coronavirus cases among young adults.

Looking for some thrills again? New Jersey’s outdoor amusement parks and water parks will be allowed to be open in time for the July 4th holiday weekend with coronavirus-related restrictions in place.

On Tuesday, Gov. Phil Murphy announced that outdoor theme parks, including those on the boardwalks, can reopen on July 2. Playgrounds can also open on July 2.

Capacity at amusement and water parks will be capped at 50%.

Among measures aimed at mitigating the spread of coronavirus that will need to be in place at the fun spots: all staff and employees must wear masks where where practicable; rides should be spaced 6 feet apart; shields between staff and customers should be installed; and more, according to the state's website.

Surfaces must be frequently sanitized and tents to protect people from the sun are permitted.

Specific social-distancing guidance is forthcoming, the first-term Democratic governor said while saying many of the measures customers will see are "now part of the norm."

For several weeks now as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations have gone down in New Jersey, Murphy has phased in reopening plans for malls, pools, camps, eateries and more. He said that reopening plans for indoor entertainment, like arcades, will come on Wednesday.

As of Tuesday, New Jersey had nearly 170,000 coronavirus cases and 12,949 people had died from COVID-19 complications. Fifty-seven new deaths were announced Tuesday.

'Concerning' Trend in COVID-19 Cases Among Young Adults

The daily cases and deaths are down significantly from peak levels, but a "concerning pattern" has emerged, health officials said.

Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said Tuesday they have seen an increase in COVID-19 cases among people under the age of 30. In April, people from 18 to 29 made up only 12% of the coronavirus cases. In June, young adults are making up 22% of cases, she said.

Persichilli said some of the increase could be attributed to an increase in testing, but that health officials were still concerned over the trend as young people pack together at the Jersey Shore and other places and potentially become carries of the virus without showing symptoms.

"People of any age can get severe illness from COVID-19," Persichilli said.

She said younger people represent a smaller percentage of cases, hospitalizations and deaths, but still pose a threat to spreading the virus to vulnerable older people. To date, at least 50 young adults have died from coronavirus-related complications.

"This isn’t a drill," Murphy said. "This is a real battle to save lives. That’s why, across our restart, we’re ensuring social distancing, requiring face coverings and masks, and putting strong cleaning and hygiene protocols in place."

If the numbers keep trending downward, Murphy said he planned on announcing more reopening plans this week as the state pushes toward the latter part of Phase 2 of its recovery from coronavirus.

Murphy called on New Jerseyans to practice commonsense to keep the virus in check. He called on young people, especially, to not be knuckleheads -- a favorite Murphy term.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness or death.

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