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Are playgrounds, amusement parks, and water parks open? What rules or safety guidance must they follow?

Last Updated: 05/07/2021

Note: If there is no unexpected surge in COVID-19 numbers, on Wednesday, May 19, percentage-based indoor and outdoor capacity limits will be lifted. Instead, businesses must limit indoor and outdoor capacity to a number that ensures all individuals or groups of people can remain six feet apart.

Playgrounds, amusement parks, water parks, carnivals, and fairs may reopen, while following appropriate health and safety standards.

Playgrounds, amusement facilities, carnivals, and fairs must follow appropriate mitigation requirements detailed in Executive Order No. 157, Executive Order No. 181, Executive Order No. 192, Executive Order No. 238, and the Department of Health's Health and Safety Standards for Outdoor and Indoor High-Touch Amusement and Recreation Activities and summarized below.

Mask Requirement

Under Executive Order No. 192, all employees, customers, and visitors must wear a face covering while on the premises (both indoors and outdoors), except when an individual is under two years of age or where it is impractical like when eating, drinking, or receiving a service that cannot be completed while wearing a mask.

Employees, customers, and visitors who refuse to wear a face covering may be declined entry, except when doing so would violate State or federal law and provided the employer complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination where applicable.

Employers may permit employees to remove their face covering when they are at their workstation at least six feet from others or alone in a walled space such as an office, or if it would create an unsafe condition such as in the water. Employers must provide face coverings to their employees.

For more details and exemptions, refer to page 4 of Executive Order No. 192.

What To Expect at High-Touch Amusement and Recreation Establishments

The following summarizes some of the protocols contained in EO 157, EO 181, EO 192, EO 238, and the DOH Health and Safety Standards. However, this summary is not a replacement for fully complying with the terms of EO 157, EO 181, EO 192, EO 238, and the health and safety standards and businesses should read the full guidance carefully to ensure full compliance. Water parks must also adhere to the requirements of EO153 and the Health and Safety Standards for Pools and Aquatic Recreation Facilities.

Establishments must institute the following policies:

  • Limit total capacity of any outdoor area to 50 percent – excluding employees
  • Limit indoor capacity to 50 percent - excluding staff
  • Develop a plan to screen guests, visitors, and employees for illness upon their entry into the venue.
  • Require workers and customers to wear face coverings at all times, except where doing so would inhibit that individual's health, such as in the water, or where the individual is under two years of age
  • Sanitize shared equipment offered for rental such as mini-golf clubs, harnesses, helmets, lap bars, etc. after each use
  • Install hand sanitizer stations throughout the facility
  • Use cashless or contactless payment methods and reservation and cancellation systems where possible
  • Establish a "guest flow" plan, including managing queues and making walkways or stairways one-way or clearly divided for bi-directional travel.
  • Implement social distancing signage, floor decals or ground markings, and/or video/audio announcements, particularly where individuals may form a line.
  • Adjust seating on amusement rides to accommodate six feet of distance (e.g., seating every other ride vehicle, except in the case of same family/household groupings, limiting capacity on a ride to allow for space between unrelated family groups).
  • Limit locker room use to hand washing and restroom use
  • Limit shower use to individually partitioned showers or communal showers with installed partitions, and only at facilities with pools.

Requirements to Protect Employees and Others

Employers must comply with the following requirements:

  • Require workers and customers to maintain at least six feet of distance from one another, to the maximum extent possible;
  • Provide approved sanitization materials for employees and visitors at no cost to those individuals;
  • Ensure that employees practice hand hygiene and provide employees with sufficient break time for that purpose;
  • Routinely clean and disinfect all high-touch areas in accordance with DOH and CDC guidelines;
  • Prior to each shift, conduct daily health checks, such as temperature screenings, visual symptom checking, self-assessment checklists, and/or health questionnaires, consistent with CDC guidance;
  • Do not allow sick employees to enter workplace and follow requirements of applicable leave laws;
  • Promptly notify employees of any known exposure to COVID-19 at the worksite; and
  • Clean and disinfect the worksite in accordance with CDC guidelines when an employee at the site has been diagnosed with COVID-19 illness.

Detailed requirements and exemptions for certain employers can be found in the full text of Executive Order No. 192.

Source: Executive Order No. 153; Executive Order No. 157; Executive Order No. 181; Health and Safety Standards for Outdoor and Indoor High-Touch Amusement and Recreation Activities; Executive Order No. 192; Executive Order No. 238