By JOHN T. WARD
Gateway National Recreation Area at Sandy Hook will be partially reopened May 9, the National Park Service announced late Friday.
While group gatherings and swimming will be prohibited, visitors can use the park to fish, kayak, run, hike and bike – if they arrive before a 50-percent capacity limit is reached, that is.
The park has been closed over concerns about COVID-19 since April 8. The reopening plan follows the end of a three-week shutdown of state and county parks by Governor Phil Murphy on Saturday.
Here’s the full announcement:
Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health officials, Gateway National Recreation Area is increasing limited recreation access. The National Park Service (NPS) is working servicewide with federal, state, and local public health authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis.
Beginning May 9, Gateway National Recreation Area will reopen access to the Sandy Hook Unit with certain restrictions in place. Beginning May 9, the following sites will be open for passive recreation from 5 am to 7 pm daily:
- Parking lots B, C, D, E, and G will be open at 50% capacity
- Most trails including the Multi Use Path
- Both ocean and bay-side beaches will be accessible for passive recreation (beaches will not be lifeguarded)
- 2019 Fishing Permits will be honored for access.
Passive recreation includes activities such as:
- group gatherings and activities.
Permanent restroom facilities will remain closed; however, portable units will be available for public use. There will be limited garbage services. Visitors are encouraged to follow Leave No Trace principles (carry in, carry out).
With public health in mind, the following facilities remain closed at this time:
- Sandy Hook Campground
- Sandy Hook Lighthouse and Visitor Center
- History House
- Fort Hancock Museum
- Guardian Park Picnic Area
- Parking Lot A
- North Beach / K Lot
- All gun batteries and fortifications
“We encourage our visitors to enjoy the outdoors and engage in passive recreation, such as walking, jogging, and hiking, as well as biking and fishing,” said Jen Nersesian, superintendent of Gateway. “A social distance of six feet should be maintained at all times while visiting Sandy Hook.”
The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners continues to be paramount. At Gateway National Recreation Area, our operational approach will be to examine each facility function and service provided to ensure those operations comply with current public health guidance, and will be regularly monitored. We continue to work closely with the NPS Office of Public Health using CDC guidance to ensure public and workspaces are safe and clean for visitors, employees, partners, and volunteers.
The following spaces within Gateway continue to be open to visitors:
- Staten Island Unit
- Jamaica Bay Unit (other than Floyd Bennett Field)
While these areas are accessible for visitors to enjoy, a return to full operations will continue to be phased, and services may be limited. When recreating, the public should follow local area health orders, practice Leave No Trace principles, avoid crowding and avoid high-risk outdoor activities.
The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases. We will continue to monitor all park functions to ensure that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19, and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health.