Normal NJ summer still in doubt despite vax progress — Top News 4/6
Gov. Phil Murphy keeps reopening plans on "pause" while defending his metrics.
New Jersey in on pace to fully vaccinate 70% of the adult population way ahead of Memorial Day, and way ahead of schedule. Murphy, however, gave no sign that he is preparing to ease more restrictions.
During his latest COVID-19 briefing on Monday, Murphy continued to tout the need for more vaccinations but has left caps on indoor and outdoor gatherings as well as other restrictions in place.
While Murphy says he expects a much more normal summer this year compared to last year, it's not clear what that will look like.
He is justifying keeping restrictions in place due to an increase in the number of COVID-19 mutations in New Jersey. He is also sighting computer model projections that show a large spike in infections and hospitalizations.
Murphy has come under fire for manipulating his metrics to exaggerate the severity of the outbreak. He angrily lashed out at the idea Monday, and called it a "conspiracy" that was rooted in politics, not science.
Outdoor gathering limits have been expanded to 200 people from 50, but the indoor gathering limit remains capped at 25. The governor also doubled the capacity of large outdoor venues to 30% and indoor venues to 20%. However, you still can't sit at a bar and indoor dining capacity remains capped at 50%. Social distancing rules also remain in place, requiring at least 6 feet of distance between seatings and limiting the number of people at one table to eight.
Capacity limits leave a usually busy summer concert schedule in limbo. While many cities and towns are planning a series of events with local talent and tribute bands, a number of big name acts have already been canceled. Taylor Swift canceled her entire 2021 tour. So did Kenny Chesney. Steely Dan and Steve Winwood just announced they were pushing dates to 2022. It's also unclear how gathering limits will impact beach access.
Last summer, towns severely limited beach badge sales to maintain social distancing on the sand. Most towns have begun pre-season sales of beach badges for seasonal use but many have held off on daily badges until the season officially begins and they get more guidance from the state.
New Jersey residents are clearly hungering for a normal summer. Even with domestic travel restrictions eased, many are still wary of traveling far from home. Summer rentals at the shore booked fast and are now hard to come by. If you were lucky enough to book your shore getaway, you are likely to find plenty of things to keep you busy and entertained. But how "normal" the shore season will be is still very much in doubt.
More N.J. Top News:
- Teachers union prez caught on video calling a parent an "a**hole" for questioning why kids were not back in school.
- Gov. Murphy defends his changing COVID metrics.
- Man tried to strangle Burger King employee in dispute over mask wearing.
- New Jersey's largest school district is sending kids back to class.
- New Jersey changes travel quarantine rules.
- All residents 16 and older will soon be eligible for COVID vaccine.
- Community responds to help server stiffed on a tip by a customer angry about COVID rules.
- President Biden offers little support for property tax relief in New Jersey.
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