New Hope Borough announced Wednesday that it will close some public spaces to limit violations of social distance guidelines during the covid-19 public health crisis.
Crowds have descended on the downtown area during recent warm weekends, with some visitors apparently not following safety practices.
“We all want to enjoy New Hope as safely as we can,” said borough officials in a statement. “But some small groups are making that harder to do, and the borough has been forced to close some public spaces in the interest of public health.
“Borough Police have responded to numerous calls from residents concerning gatherings at public facilities, clearly violating social-distancing guidelines that protect everyone’s health,” they continued. “As a consequence, the borough has no choice but to close some of these gathering spots.”
Parking lots at New Hope-Solebury High School and American Legion Post 79 on New Street will now be closed on weekends, as will borough-owned lots, officials said.
The borough will also remove benches from public streets, grounds and parks.
“Many of our weekend visitors using them as places to eat takeout food and to picnic – contrary to the whole intent of the governor’s order closing restaurants for eat-in dining,” officials said. “Additionally, the borough has no way to sanitize the benches.”
Benches will be returned to their original locations when emergency declarations are lifted, officials said.
“We had hoped to keep these places open for our local community,” said New Hope Borough Emergency Management Coordinator Michael Cummings. “Unfortunately, some people are taking advantage of New Hope’s goodwill and using our public spaces for their personal tailgate parties, going so far as to promote them on social media.”
All 67 counties in Pennsylvania are under a stay-at-home-order through May 8. Freedom of travel remains, but state officials have asked the public to refrain from non-essential travel.
“It is plainly unfair when our shops and restaurants have to close to protect the public health just to see a handful of scofflaws parade around town ignoring the very same public health directives,” commented Cummings. “We can’t close the Lambertville Bridge and we can’t shut down the roads. We prefer not to issue citations, but rather provide education by instructing individuals to keep moving and practice social distancing. The quarantine can’t be lifted, allowing New Hope to return to normal, until after everyone follows the Governor’s stay-at-home order.”
“Those who choose to visit New Hope for a pleasant stroll or other outdoor exercise should be aware that there are no public restrooms available, and the public may not use the facilities in any the restaurants while the stay-at-home order is in effect,” added borough officials in their statement. “Additionally, parking has been significantly reduced during the coronavirus emergency.”