By Vin Gopal, Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey
It’s been four months since Governor Phil Murphy’s executive order telling New Jersey’s 9 million residents to stay at home to stop the spread of COVID-19. Your efforts to protect yourselves and your families by social distancing and wearing face covering have made New Jersey one of the only two states on-track to contain COVID-19.
Many businesses and recreational and entertainment venues have reopened with limitations, but as our state moves forward in recovery, our situation remains very fluid. We want to make sure you’re aware of recent developments impacting our everyday lives.
While New Jersey residents have done a good job of slowing the spread of the virus, we are still in a public health emergency until at least August 1, and likely beyond. So, it remains as important as ever that we continue social distancing and wearing face covering to ensure our recovery continues.
On July 8 the governor signed Executive Order No. 163, which requires that everyone wear face coverings in outdoor public spaces when it’s not practical to socially distance, unless you have a medical condition that prevents you from wearing one or you’re doing high intensity aerobic or anaerobic activities such as running or walking.
Outdoor gatherings can now host up to 500 attendees, up from the previous restriction of 250, with no limit on outdoor religious services or political activities. All indoor gatherings remain capped at 25 percent capacity of the space, with a maximum of 100 attendees.
Public health officials attribute the spike in new virus cases in many other states to large indoor gatherings where people were not wearing face covering or staying six feet apart. As a result of increasing virus cases in those states, New Jersey has joined New York and Connecticut in issuing a quarantine advisory requiring visitors from 22 other states, as of Wednesday July 15, to self-quarantine for two weeks when they come here. The number of states under the advisory changes almost daily as infection rates around the country go up and, less often, down. You can learn more about which states are included and find other advisories as they are issued and updated by visiting Governor Murphy’s website at nj.gov/governor/.
On July 15 the state lifted the 50 percent capacity restriction on NJ TRANSIT and private-carrier buses, trains, light rail vehicles and Access Link vehicles. Lifting this restriction is an important step in helping people get back to work. To help make less restrictive mass transit work, all transit employees and customers still have to wear face coverings on trains and buses and when inside transit stations where they cannot social distance.
We also were able to get back to enjoying a growing number of recreational facilities with archery ranges, yoga facilities, and firearm ranges recently allowed to reopen with 25 percent capacity.
We’re all anxious to return to the things we enjoy doing and the easing of these restrictions is important progress. Let’s keep doing all we can do to beat this virus and make our communities whole again.
In the meantime, if you are a resident of our 11th Legislative District and you need help with a state program or service such as unemployment benefits, utilities/rent assistance, property tax relief, property tax relief, or small business aid, you can submit a constituent services request form at tinyurl.com/LD11Help and a member of our staff will reach out to assist you.