N.J. coronavirus recovery: Casinos and indoor dining to return July 2

The Garden State announced casinos can reopen and indoor dining can resume with limited capacity just in time for Fourth of July weekend.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy wears a mask during a coronavirus news conference in Trenton, N.J. (Chris Pedota/The Record via AP, Pool)

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Officials in New Jersey said Monday there were 359 new confirmed COVID-19 cases; bringing the statewide total to 169,415 confirmed COVID-19 cases.  Another 27 mortalities were reported raising the death toll to 12,895.

There 1,029 hospitalized patients according to the latest census from the state hospital association; 287 are in intensive care.

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Tough love from the Gov.

While New Jersey continues a downward trend in the number of coronavirus cases, Gov. Phil Murphy felt the need to give “a little bit tough love.”

He acknowledged the hardship endured because of the public health restrictions he began to implement in March to mitigate the spread of COVID, but said now is not the time for anyone to let their guard down.

The governor made the comments after seeing recent viral videos from the Shore of people not social distancing or wearing face coverings.  Murphy said during his Monday briefing that you couldn’t help but to “draw a conclusion that folks have let their hair down a little too much.”

Murphy added that what he saw was not good if the Garden State doesn’t want to see a spike in new coronavirus cases; similar to what’s happening in other parts of the country.

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“We don’t want to look like the other states that have gone through hell and now they’re going back through hell,” he added.

The governor warned that he’ll re-impose the tough restrictions, if necessary, to avoid such a spike.  He then pointed to data showing how the guidelines he imposed had helped flatten the COVID curve.  Murphy encouraged residents to continue following them so the state can continue to gradually reopen.

Casinos to reopen and indoor dining to resume in July with limits

Murphy announced on Twitter that casinos may reopen and indoor dining may resume July 2. However, they will be limited to 25 percent of their capacity.

The governor also said racetracks can resume in person betting on July 2.

The announcement comes ahead of Independence Day weekend.

Casinos have been shuttered since March 16 when Murphy ordered them closed along with gyms and indoor entertainment venues to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus. Online gambling was allowed to continue.

Guidelines for casinos and indoor dining “will be released within the next several days,” the governor tweeted.

Restaurants have been limited to take-out and delivery services until recently when outdoor dining was allowed as “Stage Two” began.

Four quarantined after two Rutgers football players test positive

Rutgers head football coach Greg Schiano said a total of four people are quarantined after two players tested positive, according to NJ.com.

One player tested positive as a result of a mail-order test given to players prior to returning to campus.  That player was told to stay home.

The other player tested negative at first, but came up positive on June 15, the first day team members could return to the Piscataway campus.

On Monday, Schiano confirmed an earlier NJ.com report, saying it  was “a challenging time” as he deals with the treatment process for the players.

“To say that we have the answers, that would be an arrogant statement,” Schiano added. “We are trying to do our best with all the information that we have.”

The university is now part of a list of colleges that reported positive COVID cases among its athletes since allowing players to return to campus for workouts.

Part two of stage two

Businesses that require close contact were allowed to reopen starting Monday as the Garden State began the next stage in the second phase of reopening.

Residents can now get their hair cut, nails painted or tattooed, but by appointment as personal care services are allowed to reopen.

Organized sports that are low risk, including golf and tennis, can resume competition immediately. Baseball, softball and soccer that are in the medium-risk category are limited to non-contact drills and practices.

Guidelines issued June 15 by the health department apply to sports under the jurisdiction of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association and the NCAA.

Also, people can finally take a dip in a public or private pool, just as summer officially begins.

Murphy announced Monday afternoon that, effective immediately, the limit on outdoor gatherings will be raised to 250 people.  The limit for indoor gatherings was increased as well to 100 people or 25 percent capacity, whichever is lower.

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