TRENTON (WCBS 880) — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday tightened restrictions on indoor gatherings, raising alarm over the growing number of coronavirus cases in the state.
In June, the governor allowed for indoor gatherings to begin again with a capacity of 25% of the building’s capacity, or a maximum of 100 people – whichever number was lower.
On Monday, the governor said indoor gatherings are now limited to 25% of a room’s capacity, with a maximum of just 25 people, down from the previous 100.
“To be clear, this tightening caps indoor house parties at 25 people – period,” Murphy said.
Gatherings exempt from the 25 people capacity include weddings, funerals, memorial services and religious and political activities protected under the First Amendment. They may continue with limitations of 25% capacity or a maximum of 100 people.
“We cannot be any clearer that indoor gatherings — especially large, crowded ones, where social distancing isn’t being practiced and face masks aren’t being worn — are not safe,” the governor said.
He noted that the state has seen a recent increase in positive test results and blamed the rise on indoor parties – such as a house party last weekend that attracted over 700 people to a mansion in Whispering Hill.
New Jersey’s reopening has been paused at Stage 2 for several weeks as the coronavirus transmission rate continues to fluctuate.
“Over the last week, we saw numbers of new cases that we hadn’t seen in eight weeks. Our rate of transmission is now more than double where it was a few weeks ago,” Murphy said. “Everyone needs to get it together – and fast. This is not yet past us.”
Gyms, movie theaters, bars and restaurants remain closed for indoor use.
Meanwhile, the governor has said if school buildings are to reopen, students will be required to wear a face mask at all times, regardless of social distancing – unless the mask poses a risk to an individual’s health.
Overall the numbers remain positive in New Jersey, but the state did receive 264 new positive cases on Monday, pushing the statewide total to 182,614.
Additionally, the state reported a total of 738 hospitalizations with 144 patients requiring critical or intensive care and 49 people needing to be put on a ventilator.
The tightening on indoor gatherings came on the same day that the Associated Press obtained records showing the state's expenses to respond the coronavirus crisis have nearly tripled since May, climbing from $197 million to $573 million.