Six Flags Great Adventure (K Whiteford/ photo)

By Bradford Mason

New Jersey took a major step on Thursday as the state continues the road to recovery and reopening from the COVID-19 crisis. Just in time for the Fourth of July holiday weekend, several entertainment venues opened including casinos, playgrounds, boardwalk arcades, outdoor water parks and amusement parks.

One thing not opening is indoor dining, which was scheduled to be permitted. This week Gov. Phil Murphy said a sharp increase in cases in states where indoor dining was permitted factored into the change

“Unfortunately, the spike in cases in numerous other states, compounded by instances of non-compliance in New Jersey, require us to hit pause on the restart of indoor dining indefinitely,” said Murphy. “I recognize that there are many establishments whose owners, managers, and customers have been responsible, but we cannot move forward unless there is complete compliance. Throughout every step of our restart, we have been clear that we would not hesitate to hit pause to safeguard public health, and this is one of those times.”

Requirements for recreational and entertainment businesses that can open, include libraries, museums, aquariums, and public and private social clubs.  These businesses must limit the capacity of their indoor premises to 25 percent, and are held to many of the same requirements that are imposed on retail businesses.

Gyms and fitness centers, movie theaters, performing arts centers, other concert venues, and indoor amusement and water parks, must keep their indoor spaces closed, and dance floors at any business must be closed or cordoned off.

Individualized indoor instruction can be offered at gyms and fitness center by appointment only where an instructor is offering training to an individual, and the individual’s immediate family members, household members, caretakers, or romantic partners.  If a gym or fitness center is offering multiple simultaneous instructions at the same facility, these instructions must take place in separate rooms or, if they take place in the same room, must be separated by a floor-to-ceiling barrier that complies with all fire code requirements.

“As we enter into the latter phases of stage two of our restart, we ask New Jerseyans to continue to answer the call of personal responsibility that has gotten us this far,” said Murphy. “We have been actively working up to this point for weeks and are confident that the health metrics we needed to see are in place.”

As the summer travel gets underway, several venues are welcoming guests back to their facilities. One notable venue eager to open back up is Six Flags Great Adventure theme park in Jackson, NJ. The park is implementing temperature checks for guests, enforcing social distancing and making masks available.

“We have developed a comprehensive reopening safety plan that includes protocols designed by theme park and waterpark industry experts, along with best practices from top destination parks from around the world, which will allow guests to experience our parks in the safest way possible. This ’new normal’ will be different in some ways, but we believe these additional measures are appropriate in the current environment,” said Six Flags President and CEO Mike Spanos.

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