Governor Murphy Reason on Park Closures Due to Religious Gatherings

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OCEAN COUNTY-Several weeks ago, Ocean County Freeholder Virginia Haines, 89, closed all of Ocean County’s parks because of large gatherings of religious Orthodox Jews visiting a bayside park in Brick Township.   Publicly, Haines refused to admit her motivation considering her longtime ties to the Lakewood Orthodox community, but behind closed doors, some officials said her decision to close parks was indeed to keep Orthodox Jews, who are predominantly from Lakewood out of county parks in surrounding towns.

Once her motive was leaked to the media by those in her own circle, she quickly back-peddled saying there were reports of social distancing violations in other parks in the county park system.

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Tonight in a Fox News interview, Murphy was grilled by Tucker Carlson regarding his decision to close all of the state’s parks, even noted that a man was arrested this week simply for sitting alone a beach here in Ocean County.

“Why does that pose a danger?” Tucker asked. “On what scientific basis did you make that decision?”


Murphy noted that New Jersey was coming into warm weather and peak religious seasons, specifically Passover, then Easter and Ramadan.

“Some of the counties were beginning to close their parks,” Murphy said, referring specifically to Ocean County which led the charge to close parks to keep Orthodox Jews contained to Lakewood, where COVID-19 numbers have risen far above other towns in the county. “The concern was that those who couldn’t go to their normal park would go to another park, another county or state park.”

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Related: See a Photo of Island Beach State Park the day Phil Murphy closed all state parks.

It wasn’t just a gut feeling, Murphy said.  Murphy noted that a large amount of out of state license plates were starting to show up in New Jersey parks, mostly from New York City in the shore area.

Murphy didn’t explain which science was in play when a person sitting on a beach was charged.