PENNS GROVE — Police say they broke up a large house party with 30 people on the night that Gov. Phil Murphy’s “stay at home” executive order went into effect.

The governor on March 21 ordered a halt on all social gatherings during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Previously, social gatherings had been limited to 50 people.

Police Chief Patrick Riley wrote on the department's Facebook page that police were called to a report complaining about noise at a gathering of adults at a house on Lanning Avenue.

The tenant was charged with a disorderly persons offense, or misdemeanor.

"I ask the citizens to please adhere to the governor’s executive orders as this is the only way we will be able to stop the spread of the very dangerous virus," Riley said.

Although the governor's executive order does not have a specific penalty for violations, Murphy and Attorney General Gurbir Grewal Monday promised a law enforcement crackdown not only on businesses that violate a state order to close, but on private gatherings that could hasten the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Health officials have been promoting social-distancing measures in order to slow the spread of the virus, which has led to a surge in hospital admissions that officials fear could crush the healthcare system.

Gatherings in Lakewood have calmed down after police last week said they broke up two weddings and issued summons to 17 homeowners for having gatherings of more than 50 people.

Lakewood Police Chief Greg Meyer said there were no large gatherings reported to police over the weekend.

"The word is finally out since Friday afternoon and looks like we have full compliance," Meyer told New Jersey 101.5. "Although a township of over 100K is bound to have some movement to keep things running and basic necessities needed for families during these times."

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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