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Murphy signs executive order to limit capacity on indoor, outdoor gatherings

Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) said religious services or celebrations, political activities, funerals or memorial services, wedding ceremonies and performances are exempted from these changes in indoor and outdoor gathering limitations. – Photo by Phil Murphy / Flickr

Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) held a press conference yesterday to announce the re-tightening of restrictions across the state as coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases continue to rise.

An additional 2,232 COVID-19 cases and 14 deaths were reported in New Jersey yesterday, bringing the state’s total to 281,493 cases and 14,779 deaths.

As of yesterday, there were 2,115 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 in New Jersey. There were also 417 patients in critical or intensive care, as well as 137 patients on ventilators.

“(Sunday’s) and Saturday’s numbers are respectively the first and second highest daily counts we have reported, not just of the second wave, but since we recorded our first confirmed case on March 4th,” Murphy said. “So, let that sink in. Our highest case counts are now no longer from when this virus first began rampaging across our communities. They have come now, when we are grappling with pandemic fatigue and when we know people have begun to let their guards down.”

Murphy signed an executive order to change the limit on indoor gatherings from 25 to 10 individuals. He said religious services or celebrations, political activities, funerals or memorial services, wedding ceremonies and performances are exempted and will instead be limited to 25 percent capacity with a maximum of 150 individuals.

He said indoor sports practices and competitions will also be allowed to exceed this limit, but only for people necessary for these events, such as players, coaches and referees.

Murphy also changed the limit on outdoor gatherings from 500 to 150 individuals. He said the exceptions to this rule are the same as for indoor gatherings.

These limitations apply to various events, such as youth and high school sporting events, as well as outdoor concerts and other performances, he said.

Murphy said that because this reduction is severe and may impact events already scheduled for the upcoming week, the limit on outdoor gatherings will take effect on Nov. 23.

“Outdoor gatherings, even now, are subject to strict social distancing restrictions, including the requirement to wear masks whenever it is not possible to social distance,” he said. “Any outdoor gathering either before or after (Nov. 23) must abide by those restrictions or face the consequences.”

New Jersey State Police Colonel Patrick Callahan also discussed recent executive order violations across the state.

He said 104 compliance checks were recently conducted by investigators from the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), criminal justice investigators and local law enforcement. Fifteen establishments within Camden, Hudson and Passaic Counties were found to be in violation of executive orders, he said.

Murphy said ABC investigators will continue to make these checks throughout the week, and that this is the first wave of sustained effort to ensure establishments are following proper protocols.

“No state crushed this curve like New Jersey, we just gotta do it again,” Murphy said. “It’s not forever and always. We’re going to get to a better place sooner than we all may think right now.”

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