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Murphy gives update on coronavirus measures, marijuana legalization at press conference

Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) announced increased capacity limits for houses of worship, which took effect yesterday, and the reopening of sports and entertainment venues with a capacity of more than 5,000 people starting next Monday. – Photo by Gov. Phil Murphy  / Twitter

Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) held a press conference today to announce the legalization of adult-use marijuana in New Jersey and the easing of safety limits for houses of worship and venues.

The state reported an additional 2,165 positive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests yesterday, making the statewide total 684,902 confirmed cases. They also received 682 new positive antigen tests that are awaiting confirmation.

There were 2,023 hospitalizations as of Sunday, with 438 patients in critical or intensive care and 289 patients on ventilators.

In addition, 17 new deaths were confirmed, bringing the total to 20,585 deaths in New Jersey. Another 2,289 deaths were potentially linked to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). 

A total of 1,676,496 COVID-19 vaccinations have been administered as of yesterday, Murphy said. Much of the backlog of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for last week arrived yesterday, and approximately half of the vaccine sites in New Jersey received this week’s Moderna shipments.

Murphy said he signed three bills yesterday that legalized the adult use of marijuana, decriminalized marijuana possession in small quantities and created a cannabis industry in New Jersey.

“As of this moment, New Jersey’s broken and indefensible marijuana laws which permanently stained the records of many residents and short-circuited their futures, and which disproportionately hurt communities of color and failed the meaning of justice at every level, social or otherwise, are no more,” he said.

The marijuana industry will take shape over the coming months, and people who have been arrested for marijuana have already began to receive relief, Murphy said.

In addition, he announced that houses of worship and religious services may now operate at 50 percent capacity. Mask and social distancing regulations are still in place.

Two parents or guardians per athlete may now attend collegiate sports practices and competitions, Murphy said. Conferences retain the ability to impose their own capacity limits.

Murphy said sports and entertainment venues with a capacity of more than 5,000 people will be able to open starting next Monday at 10 percent capacity indoors and 15 percent outdoors.

“Other states have recently taken similar steps, including New York, and we are pleased to be able to join them,” he said.

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