Coronavirus Restrictions in New Jersey: What is open? What is allowed? It is now getting confusing!

Governor Phil Murphy has again eased some restrictions on his original shutdown order, as we head into Memorial Day weekend, but it hasn’t come without some confusion as we now enter over 60 days since Murphy signed executive order #147.

Beaches are open with limited restrictions and the local authorities are setting local restrictions. Here is a great guide to the beaches from NJ.com

Gatherings of up to 25 people will now be allowed outdoors — including for church gatherings — as well as for outdoor recreational businesses like charter and fishing boats, driving ranges, and outdoor batting cages, under an executive order Murphy said he’s signing. It takes effect immediately.

The governor added that this does not apply to outdoor dining or graduations. But church gatherings can now be 25 people are fewer, his office said.

State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli urged people to still avoid large gatherings as much as possible, and to make sure that masks are being properly worn. She added that people should try their best to keep gatherings to immediate family members and roommates.

Murphy also announced that public and private recreational campgrounds can immediately reopen under the order.

Up to this point, outdoor gatherings in New Jersey had been capped at 10 people as part of the state’s efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Indoor gatherings will continue to be capped at 10 people.

Still, Murphy said the state still social distancing guidelines must be followed, and the wearing of masks is strongly recommended, as people come together.

As of today here is a listing to the best of our understanding in the Hamilton and Mercer County area:

Parks/Recreation

Mercer County:

All parks are open for passive recreation. Walking, running, biking, hiking, fishing and boating. 

Park activities now open include disc golf and dog parks at limited capacity; golf courses and driving ranges for scheduled tee times only; the Marina on weekend only and for one-hour kayak rental; Mercer County Stables for riding lessons by appointment; the Tennis Center for scheduled court times; and the Wildlife Center which is accepting patients by appointment.  

There is no organized or contact activities or sports allowed at ballfields, basketball courts, festival grounds, and playgrounds.  Public gatherings also are not permitted.  The Howell Living History Farm, Tulpehaking Nature Center and administrative offices remain closed. 

Hamilton Township:

All parks open for passive recreation. Playgrounds closed.

At Hamilton Veteran’s Park, tennis courts and skate park now open; skate park attendance will be limited to 10 people at a time. The Dog Park open, with a limit of 10 persons in the small dog section and 10 persons in the large dog section. There will be no limit on the number of dogs present.

The driving range at the Hamilton Golf Center is open, while the miniature golf course remains closed until further notice.

Hamilton Mayor Jeff Martin posted this video to Facebook on Thursday, May 21.

More Township facilities, including our Golf Center’s driving range, open tomorrow. I hope everyone has a tee-rific weekend! ⛳️?️‍♂️?️‍♀️

Posted by Mayor Jeff Martin on Thursday, 21 May 2020

Restaurants / Dining – Open for take-out and delivery only!

Businesses Allowed to Remain Open To The Public

Essential retail businesses which are allowed to remain open to the public, while following required mitigation requirements are:

  • Grocery stores and any stores that sell food;
  • Pharmacies and medical marijuana dispensaries;
  • Medical supply stores;
  • Gas stations;
  • Convenience stores;
  • Ancillary stores within healthcare facilities;
  • Hardware and home improvement stores;
  • Banks and other financial institutions;
  • Laundromats and dry-cleaning services;
  • Stores that principally sell supplies for children under five years;
  • Pet stores, pet groomers, pet daycare, and pet boarding businesses;
  • Liquor stores;
  • Car dealerships, and motorcycle dealerships
  • Auto mechanics
  • Printing and office supply shops;
  • Mail and delivery stores;
  • Bars and restaurants for drive-through, delivery, and takeout only;
  • Mobile phone retail and repair shops;
  • Bicycle shops, but only to provide service and repair – bicycle shops will open for in-person sales on May 19 at 6 am;;
  • Livestock feed stores;
  • Nurseries and garden centers;
  • Farming equipment stores;
  • Child care centers, but only if they certify by Friday, March 27 that they will only serve children of essential workers starting April 1;
  • Realtors, but only to show houses 1-on-1 (open houses are prohibited);
  • Firearms retailers, by appointment only and during limited hours;
  • Microbreweries or brewpubs for home delivery only;
  • Stores which principally sell items necessary for religious observation or worship

Business Required Closed

Recreational and Entertainment Businesses: Recreational and entertainment businesses must close. These include:

  • Casino gaming floors, including retail sports wagering lounges, and casino concert and entertainment venues;
  • Racetracks, including stabling facilities and retail sports wagering lounges;
  • Gyms and fitness centers and classes;
  • Entertainment centers, including but not limited to, movie theaters, performing arts centers, other concert venues, and nightclubs;
  • All indoor portions of retail shopping malls. Restaurants and other stores located within shopping malls that have their own external entrances open to the public may continue offering only food delivery and/or take-out services.
  • All places of public amusement, whether indoors or outdoors, including but not limited to, locations with amusement parks, water parks, aquariums, zoos, arcades, fairs, children’s play centers, funplexes, theme parks, bowling alleys, family and children’s attractions;
  • All municipal, county, and State public libraries, and all libraries and computer labs at public and private colleges and universities;
  • Barbershops;
  • Hair salons;
  • Spas;
  • Nail and eyelash salons;
  • Tattoo parlors;
  • Massage parlors;
  • Tanning salons;
  • Public and private social clubs; and
  • All other personal-care businesses that by their very nature result in noncompliance with social distancing, excluding any health facilities that provide medically necessary or therapeutic services.

Retail Business not deemed “Essential” are allowed to offer products via curbside pickup from online or phone ordering

Earlier this week, the governor laid out a five-step recovery plan that would let more retail locations open “in a matter of weeks.” But he didn’t commit to any hard timelines and said there remain too many new coronavirus cases in New Jersey for that to be safe right now.

About The Author


Irving Lawrence Duckwald III is a freelance writer and blogger based in Central New Jersey. He has a penchant for fried chicken, fast cars, and fancy suits. With a knack for "setting the record straight", he can argue till the cows come home why it's Pork Roll and not Taylor Ham.