No, Murphy says, we’re not about to shut down NJ
Heard the rumor about how Gov. Phil Murphy is about to shut down all of New Jersey again? Murphy's heard it too.
"Those rumors, whether told to you by a friend or posted on social media, are just that — rumors," Murphy said Monday at his regular novel coronavirus briefing.
Murphy's own quotes to media have fueled some of that speculation. He said on Fox News Sunday that a shutdown is "still on the table" this weekend. Murphy said Monday he needs to keep every option open, but "that does not mean we are about to exercise any of those options."
Capacity limits still remain for most facilities, including retail stores, entertainment operations like movie theaters, personal care facilities such as salons, restaurants, and gyms.
Murphy has described the state's ongoing surge in novel coronavirus cases and hospitalizations as a second wave, though daily deaths and the rate of transmission remain a fraction of the levels New Jersey saw over the spring.
The governor stressed Monday the state is in a different position than it was when first hard-hit by coronavirus cases and deaths in March and April. He said there are "more moves on the board we can take," with a better supply of protective equipment, more ventilators and a more sophisticated data collection and analysis operation.
Those moves include more focused restrictions on activities known to cause the spread of the virus, Murphy said. He confirmed earlier reporting that effective next week, the state will limit outdoor gatherings to just 25 people, down from a previously allowed 150 — with exceptions for religious and political activities, as well as funerals, memorial services and weddings.
New Jersey is also barring youth and grade school indoor sports until at least early January, effective Saturday.
Indoor gatherings remain capped at 10 people — also with exceptions for religious and political activities — under an executive order Murphy signed earlier this month.
"Because of the data, we know how and where we can best meet these challenges," Murphy said.
The governor also said that according to the state's latest data, 70 percent of people reached by contact tracers are refusing to cooperate.
"There's no witch hunt, and our contract tracers are not out to snitch on anyone," Murphy said. "Their sole focus is on making sure you know you have been exposed so you can take the steps to protect yourselves or your loved ones or your community, period."