By: David J. Detweiler, Writer / Follow South Jersey Child Welfare Intern
BRIDGETON, N.J. — As Bridgeton continues to progress toward some sort of normalcy amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, many local parks, zoos, and water parks are taking many steps to keep their visitors safe.
Governor Murphy released Executive Order #133 on April 29 with the intent of reopening state parks. The opening of pools and outdoor recreational businesses didn’t arrive until June 22 with the enforcement of Executive Order #153. Progress has continued as Executive Order #161, released on July 3, increased outdoor gathering capacity to 500 people. Since the coronavirus is still so prevalent in today’s society, some changes and additions to the rules and guidelines of places such as Splash Park or the Cohanzick Zoo would only be logical.
The Cohanzick Zoo is a local Bridgeton zoo with 46 exhibits to marvel at. Their recent July 6 opening came with new guidelines attached to keep visitors safe from the spread of COVID-19. Recent rule changes to keep visitors safe include new hours of operation (10 a.m. through 3 p.m.) that differ from their typical 9-to-5 schedule. The new visitor capacity is set to 125 people. There will be an employee tracking how many people are in the zoo at all times. Cohanzick Zoo also requires face masks for everyone older than the age of two, unless you have a medical condition that prohibits you from wearing a mask.
Cohanzick Zoo recommends going to the parking lot for a break if you start to feel overheated from wearing your face mask for an extended period of time. Social distancing of at least six feet is required along with an arrow and sign directory to keep traffic flowing in one direction to the exit. High contact areas will be closed until further notice. Restrooms can be accessed by request and will be cleaned after every use. Any updates on these rules and regulations can be found here, or you can contact the zoo at (856) 453-1658 for further questions or concerns.
Splash Park is the neighbor of the Cohanzick Zoo in Bridgeton. The other half of the Bridgeton dynamic duo of attractions is currently closed right now. Per Bridgeton’s City Hall, Splash Park is still closed because the state requires more employees in the workplace to enforce social distancing norms and constant cleanings. Bridgeton will announce an opening date for the water park soon. The new typical day at Splash Park will include a 35-person limit. An employee at the entrance will keep track of who comes and goes. Once you are in, a face mask is required unless you’re in the water. Cleanings of high contact areas will be conducted hourly.
“Keeping people safe is something we try to aim at all the time,” said Kevin Rabago Sr., Bridgeton City Hall’s business administrator.
Even though state parks are open, New Jersey has not progressed to the point of opening all local parks. Bridgeton is following state protocol in that sense by also keeping its local parks closed for public use until further notice.
Sports organizations that would like to host their games on the fields or courts of Bridgeton parks must submit a plan to City Hall that keeps all participants and spectators safe from the coronavirus. The proposal would have to include practices such as temperature checks, cleaning equipment after use, social distancing for spectators, and wearing masks. Keeping drink and food containers labeled with players’ names to avoid mix-ups is also recommended.
With the world changing, the Cohanzick Zoo has made sure to set the rules in place to keep their visitors safe. Splash Park and other local venues are not too far behind.
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This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.