Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco on Thursday closed Ramapo Valley County Reservation, Campgaw Mountain Reservation and Darlington County Park in Mahwah to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic as of 8 a.m. Friday.
Other county parks remain open but don’t allow any vehicular traffic.
Tedesco said he was forced into the executive order “in a further effort to slow the spread of the pandemic.”
Pursuant to the authority vested in me under the County Executive Form of Optional Charter Law, N.J.S.A. 40:41A-36 and 37, et seq., and Article 3, Section 3.4 of the Administrative Code of the County of Bergen, I issue the following Executive Order:
WHEREAS, on January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization designated the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern; and
WHEREAS, the spread of COVID-19 within New Jersey constitutes an imminent public health hazard that threatens and presently endangers the health, safety and welfare of the residents of all municipalities and counties within the State of New Jersey; and
WHEREAS, the Governor of the State of New Jersey has declared a State of Emergency within the New Jersey and the President of the United States has declared a National Emergency as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic; and
WHEREAS, in response to the health emergency posed by COVID-19, I issued Executive Order No. 2020-01 on March 10, 2020 declaring a State of Emergency in Bergen County due to the COVID-19 pandemic; and
WHEREAS, on March 21, 2020, Governor Philip D. Murphy issued Executive Order No. 107 requiring New Jersey residents to remain home or at their place of residence subject to limited exceptions, cancelling social gatherings, and limiting all restaurants and other dining establishments to offering only food delivery and/or take-out services; and
WHEREAS, Executive Order No. 107 instituted clear parameters on essential retail businesses that are permitted to operate and required that all businesses or non-profits utilize telework or work-from-home arrangements wherever practicable; and
WHEREAS, under Executive Order No. 107, the Governor ordered that all recreational and entertainment businesses are closed to the public, all public, private, and parochial preschool program premises, and elementary and secondary schools, including charter and renaissance schools, are closed to the public, and all institutions of higher education shall continue to cease in-person education; and
WHEREAS, on March 21, 2020, Governor Philip D. Murphy also issued Executive Order No. 108, which prohibits counties or municipalities from imposing any COVID-19 related restrictions that in any way will or might conflict with any of the provisions of Executive Order No. 107; and
WHEREAS, the Governor reserved in Executive Order No. 107 to municipalities or counties the ability to impose additional restrictions in municipal or county parks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic; and
WHEREAS, the County has determined that additional restrictions regarding county parks are necessary to ensure compliance with the guidelines of health professionals and the CDC as to social distancing in order to slow the deadly spread of the COVID-19 throughout Bergen County and protect the health, safety, welfare and lives of the residents of Bergen County, while preserving the ability of individuals to spend time outdoors.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, JAMES J. TEDESCO, III, as the County Executive for the County of Bergen, do hereby order and direct that:
1) The above recitals are incorporated herein as if more fully set forth at length.
2) Despite instructions from federal, state, and local officials to make every attempt to stay at home and avoid crowds, some Bergen County parks have noted that people continue to visit parks in large numbers, gather in parking lots, bathrooms, and popular spots despite guidelines to maintain a social distance from other people.
3) In order to maintain compliance with the guidelines set by health professionals and the CDC as to social distancing and to prevent parks from becoming viral hotspots as the novel coronavirus COVID-19 continues to spread and individuals seek time outside as a break from staying at home, it is hereby ordered that:
a. No vehicular traffic of any kind, including but not limited to automobiles, motorcycles or any motor-driven mode of transportation, shall be allowed in any county park.
b. This provision shall not apply to emergency vehicles, authorized County vehicles, vehicles operated by utilities or vehicles with express authorization.
4) The following County Parks will close to the public entirely:
a. Ramapo Valley County Reservation Ramapo Valley Road (Route 202), Mahwah.
b. Campgaw Mountain Reservation, 200 Campgaw Rd, Mahwah.
c. Darlington County Park, 600 Darlington Avenue, Mahwah.
5) This Order shall take effect 8 a.m., Friday, March 27, 2020, and shall remain in effect until further notice.
6) A copy of this Executive Order shall be immediately transmitted to the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders.
7) Questions with respect to the provisions of the within Executive Order may be presented by email to the County at EOquestions@co.bergen.nj.us, or by calling the County during normal business hours at (201) 336-6010.