The Mantoloking Bridge (Photo: Daniel Nee)
The Mantoloking Bridge county park (Photo: Daniel Nee)

All parks under Ocean County’s jurisdiction will reopen Friday, county officials announced Wednesday. With the opening, however, comes a set of restrictions frequently applied to facilities that had been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On May 22 all of Ocean County parks, including off-leash dog parks, will have been reopened to the public. The status of parks under the control of the state or municipal government will continue to be decided at those levels. All county parks will operate with a 50 percent capacity limit, including those that had already been reopened over the past several weeks.

“We encourage everyone using our parks to be mindful of themselves and their neighbors and continue to take precautions at this time including social distancing, washing your hands, wearing face masks and staying home if you are sick,” said Freeholder Virginia Haines.

Playgrounds, nature centers and pavilions also remain closed. Swimming is currently prohibited at any of the Ocean County parks that have beaches. Based on lifeguard availability, those beaches are expected to open later in June. ‘No Swimming’ signs are posted throughout the park system.

Bathroom facilities will be available at all county park sites, but visitors using them must be wearing a face covering. Face coverings are “strongly recommended” when accessing the dog parks at Ocean County Airpark in Berkeley Township and Ocean County Park, Lakewood and all of the parks in the county system, a statement from the county said.

The last of the county’s parks to reopen on May 22 include Beaver Dam County Park, Point Pleasant, A. Paul King County Park, Stafford Township, Mantoloking Bridge County Park and Fishing Pier, and Gull Island County Park, Point Pleasant Beach.

Golf Schedule Changes

The county’s golf courses will have some changes to their hours as of Friday.

Tee times will include foursomes starting Friday, May 22 at the Ocean County Golf Course at Atlantis, Little Egg Harbor Township and the Ocean County Golf Course at Forge Pond, Brick Township. Tee times will still be 20 minutes apart and will require a reservation. Reservations can be made by calling the respective course’s pro shop seven days in advance or reserving on GolfNow. One foursome reservation per phone call. Credit card and debit cards will be taken for payment. There is no cash option at this time.

Atlantis’ last tee time will be 5:20 p.m. and the last cart needs to be in 15 minutes prior to sunset (posted at pro shop). The driving range at Atlantis is open and driving range golf balls will be sanitized. Every other stall will be utilized.

The Forge Pond Pro shop closes at 5 p.m. and the last cart needs to be in at 4:45 p.m. Carts are still limited to one rider per cart, excluding an individual’s immediate family member, caretakers, household members, or romantic partner. All social distancing rules are in effect and a mask must be worn to approach the counter for payment.

“Restrictions at our parks and our golf courses are in place to protect the health and safety of the patrons that are visiting us along with our staff,” Haines said. “While we understand some may feel this is nothing but an inconvenience, we are still in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and must take all the steps we can to limit anyone’s exposure to this virus.”

All parks are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

“We want everyone to enjoy our parks and natural lands safely,” said Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari. “The health and safety of our residents and visitors is paramount. It’s important that we continue to follow social distancing rules. We all need to remember that our actions don’t affect just us, they affect our family, they affect our health care workers, they affect our emergency responders, they affect the workers at our grocery stores.”

Ocean County has 8,012 cases of coronavirus as of May 19.