At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Phil Murphy issued stay-at-home and social distancing directives to all New Jersey residents to combat the spread of COVID-19. The order prohibits gatherings of 10 or more individuals in public or private spaces.
This includes social events and other celebrations, including, parents take note, birthday parties and play dates for kids.
Despite these restrictions put into place by state and local officials, residents have been disobeying the stay-at-home order. Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner has condemned residents for continuing to schedule such events despite the ongoing pandemic.
“You should not be having any social gatherings of any kind,” Turner said. “This disease is serious, and everyone should be self-isolating as much as possible. Any social gathering will spread the disease.”
Despite the mayor’s warning, the township has received several reports of birthday parties and neighborhood gatherings.
“These events must stop now!” Turner said. “They are against the Governor’s Executive Order, which we are required by law to enforce.”
Township warns of fines
As the issue persists, Turner has threatened to start issuing summonses for violations. Turner said the fines are substantial, as high as $1,000. The host may be legally liable for holding the event against the governor’s order.
“Birthday parties or similar types of activities can be held virtually,” Turner said. “Please protect your children, their friends, and yourselves by not having any events of these types.”
Play dates have also been an issue in the township. Some Weehawken residents are disobeying the stay-at-home and social distancing directives and putting their children at risk.
“Parents, we are getting reports that many of you understandably are setting up play dates with other children either in people’s homes or in public spaces,” Turner said. “This should stop immediately. You may be putting your children and families in danger.”
Turner acknowledged reports that children may be the least affected by this disease, but noted that some children and their parents may be infected even though they may not have symptoms.
“As the weather gets nicer, the temptation will be greater, and we must all be vigilant in preventing this from happening,” Turner said. “We must all practice social distancing.”
Sidewalks still open
While play dates are prohibited, and the stay-at-home order in place, residents can still go outside and are still allowed on public walkways and sidewalks.
Passive areas such as sidewalks and walkways are not closed under the State of Emergency. Even after the curfew begins in Weehawken at 10 p.m., it is not illegal to be on the street.
Turner said that the police will tell people on the public walkways after the curfew that they should go home.
There are some exceptions. If residents are walking dogs, they can be out for a limited time. Outside of curfew hours, the township refers to federal guidelines prohibiting the gathering of 10 or more people.
According to Turner, these limitations are subject to change at any hour during the crisis, and residents will be alerted by the township if any changes occur.
Residents are advised to continue social distancing at all times, remaining approximately six feet apart.
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