N.J. coronavirus recovery: Murphy lifts stay-at-home order

He says New Jerseyans should continue wearing face coverings in public and keep at least six feet of distance from others.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy holds a news conference regarding COVID-19 cases. (Chris Pedota/The Record via AP, Pool)

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On Tuesday, New Jersey reported 375 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and an additional 91 deaths from the virus. The new statewide totals are 164,796 cases and 12,303 mortalities.

The state hospital association reported 1,736 hospitalizations as of 10 p.m. Monday; a net reduction of four hospitalizations.  The number of patients in intensive care increased by 12 to a total of 510.

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Stay-at-home order lifted

Gov. Phil Murphy lifted the state’s stay-at-home order Tuesday.

Murphy imposed the restriction on March 12 to help slow the spread of COVID-19, which has sickened so many New Jerseyans that it’s the second hardest-hit state in the country.

“With more and more of our businesses reopening, we are no longer requiring you to stay at home, but we are asking you to continue to be responsible and safe,” Murphy said when explaining his decision.

Murphy added there’s evidence that stay-at-home orders saved thousands of lives across the country and that the state would be in a worse position if it had not required residents to remain inside.

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With the executive order lifted, the “stay at home” banner that has been a familiar sight at the table where Murphy gives his daily briefings was changed to “public health creates economic health.”

Public health creates economic health
With New Jersey’s stay-at-home order lifted, Gov. Phil Murphy introduced a new guiding principle as the state continues to reopen. (YouTube)

The governor also lifted the limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings.

Indoor gatherings are now limited to 25 percent of a building’s capacity or 50 people; whichever number is lower.  Murphy said this will allow for greater indoor religious services, but adds that the new limit excludes indoor dining and entertainment.

Outdoor gatherings are now limited to 100 people with an exception for people participating in protests.  Outdoor recreational and entertainment businesses excluding amusement parks, water parks and arcades have also been authorized to reopen under the new executive order.

“I hope we can get there on them sooner rather than later as well, but not yet,” Murphy added.

When asked if rules on outdoor gatherings were relaxed after he received push back for participating in two Black Lives Matter protests over the weekend, Murphy responded that “we have to be consistent.”

“We have to allow folks to get out there rightfully and peacefully, angrily protest and express themselves and we have to do it in a way that is consistent with the law,” he said.

Murphy reminded New Jerseyans to continue wearing face coverings in public and keep at least six feet of distance from others.

The governor added he hopes to raise the outdoor gathering limit to 500 people by July 3.

Rules for Garden State pools during a pandemic

State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli shared guidelines for public and private pools to abide by when they reopen on June 22.

Lifeguards and those in the water do not have to wear a face covering.  But pool capacity must be limited to 50 percent.

“Measures to limit capacity could include things like implementing a reservation or pass system or reducing hours,” Persichilli suggested.

The guidelines say entry and exit points should be staggered to avoid people getting too close to one another, hand sanitizing stations throughout facilities, as well as limited capacity in restrooms, showers and locker areas.

Persichilli also said staff must be screened for fever and COVID-19 symptoms before entering the facility.  Staff and swimmers must sign in for potential contact tracing efforts.

She adds that the use of pool toys and equipment should not be permitted to limit sharing of the items.

In addition, the rules require markings in common areas for social distancing and signs will encourage those who are not well to stay home.

$45 million in grants available for small businesses

The state Economic Development Authority has made available another round of grants to small businesses.

The EDA started accepting applications Tuesday morning for $45 million in available grants made possible through the federal CARES Act.  One third of that amount, $15 million, has been reserved for small businesses in opportunity zones.

The agency received 19,500 applications by midday, according to Tim Sullivan, CEO of  the EDA. =

“The average size [of the companies] is about 2.8 employees per application; pretty small companies which we want to do,” he said, “we want to be helping the smallest businesses who need support the most.”

Sullivan added applications will be accepted for the next couple of days.  If the application average holds, the agency can support about 16,000 grants, he said.

The EDA also announced a new and expanded $10 million loan program for sole proprietorships that is expected to be launched in a couple of weeks.

Unemployment payments delayed by bank glitch

An issue at Bank of America caused by weekend system maintenance will delay unemployment payments to New Jerseyans who are out of work.

The New Jersey Office of Information Technology said Monday the bank notified them of the issue. The office advised those getting unemployment benefits via direct deposit may receive it up to two days late.

Gov. Phil Murphy said during Monday’s COVID-19 briefing that he was not sure if the glitch also is delaying the extra $600 unemployment benefit coming from the federal government.

A bank official told NorthJersey.com they are working with the state to get the payments processed as quickly as possible.

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