UPDATE — Tuesday, March 17: Gov. Murphy has ordered that all indoor shopping centers and malls across the state to close indefinitely starting 8 p.m. March 17. "It's the state that makes the final call," Murphy said in response to local actions like Bergen County's.


UPDATE — Tuesday, March 17: The implementation of the retail closures has been delayed until Saturday.


Bergen County, New Jersey's busiest retail hub, will shut down its malls and retail stores almost entirely after Tuesday night — effectively putting the county's infamous Sunday blue laws into effect every day of the week as the county continues its response to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The restrictions, announced Monday by Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco, are even more severe than other statewide restrictions Gov. Phil Murphy announced earlier the same day. Under Murphy's order, entertainment businesses like theaters and casinos are shuttered as of 8 p.m. Monday. Restaurants will be take-out and delivery only until further notice.

But retailers through most of the state can continue operating until an 8 p.m. curfew, so long as they also abide by a ban on crowds of 50 or more, under Murphy's order.

In Bergen County, Tedesco's executive order bans "worldly employment and businesses" until further notice, except for drug and food manufacturers, the Daily Voice reports.

According to a NorthJersey.com report, at a press conference, Tedesco suggested he'd been threatened with lawsuits over the closures, but said he has the "moral authority" to order them.

That report says the order makes exceptions for businesses including gas stations, banks, law firms, liquor stores and funeral parlors. Warehouse stores like Costco can sell items typically sold at grocery stores. Health care facilities can stay open, the report said.

The order also halts road work.

The new American Dream mall, in the Bergen County community of East Rutherford, had already announced it would close and postponed a water park opening planned for this month.

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The decision comes as state health officials and Murphy said Monday New Jersey's confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus had grown by 80 in a day, to 178. By far, the greatest concentration is in Bergen County — with 32 new cases, by the state's count, for a total of 61 in all.

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