Phil Murphy says he’s pleased that excluding a few “knuckleheads” most New Jersey residents are staying home or when out, practicing “social distancing.”
Most people are not idiots. They understand the need for reasonable, albeit stringent, restrictions in an emergency.
But what can upset the equilibrium we have now is pushing too far.
We’re not there, but we’re seeing some troubling signs.
In the last few days, officials in Paterson and Bergen County closed the parks to make sure there would be no soccer games or when the weather warms up, large picnics. Some other jurisdictions have done the same.
This can be counterproductive. Sure, large gatherings must be banned, but why close places that offer residents a chance to exercise?
It is indisputable that regular exercise produces healthy individuals, And healthy individuals are more likely to fight off the coronavirus or recover if they get it.
Social distancing is important. But social distancing is pretty easy to practice if you are jogging, walking or bike riding – even if you do it with a friend or two.
With so many people working – and staying – at home, outlets are needed. And options truly are limited. Just look at a small rundown of what is closed – malls, movie theaters, bowling alleys, health clubs and restaurants (other than for take-out). For psychological reasons alone, people need something to do outside the home.
It is instructive that the governor said at one of his earlier briefings that venturing outside to exercise is perfectly fine.
And many want to do it. Saturday’s rainy weather wasn’t conducive to spending time in a park, but things were quite different on Friday. I visit the local parks and trails in my section of western Morris County all the time, and on this day the trails were quite crowded.
But not congested enough to negate distancing.
Clearly, people want to go outside. And they can in Morris County, where, fortunately, there is no shutdown of recreational trails.
Some may have seen a story about a French marathon runner who after an upcoming race was postponed, allegedly “ran” 26 miles jogging around and around the balcony of his home.
A bit crazy? Of course.
But by any measure, unrealistic for the average person.
As we said, there is always a concern in the situation we are now in that officials will overreach, or more accurately, over-regulate. That may be what we are seeing with moves by some to shut down county and municipal parks.
That’s not good, because it can lead to a push-back by residents. And so much for equilibrium.