Starting Thursday: More recreation allowed in NJ
Seeing encouraging statistics on new novel coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, and faced with increasing pressure to re-open New Jersey as a national debate over shutdowns heats up, Gov. Phil Murphy Monday announced he's expanding outdoor recreation, effective Thursday.
The latest update to the governor's executive orders shutting most New Jersey businesses will now allow for batting cages and golf ranges, shooting and archery ranges, horseback riding, private tennis clubs and community gardens to open.
The move comes the same day a gym owner made national headlines for defying Murphy's shutdown order, instead instituting his own policies for limited-capacity attendance and social distancing — in some ways, a broad-strokes preview of the sorts of restrictions Murphy says he envisions as more businesses open up.
President Donald Trump Friday, though he called Murphy a "good governor" who's "working hard," in a call to New Jersey 101.5's Bill Spadea spoke broadly about returning to a sense of normalcy soon — one without the ubiquitous masks and social distancing Murphy continued to press for Monday.
At his daily press briefing Monday, Murphy outlined several stages of the state's planned reopening, expected to move forward as new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, ICU usage and ventilator usage all continue to decline. He warned a new spike could prompt a rebound of restrictions.
"We will not risk lives to a rebound of COVID-19," Murphy said. He described a progression toward allowing more retail and restaurant operations, with restrictions, until eventually reopening New Jersey's economy in full as residents acclimate to a "new normal" of precautions such as wearing masks in public.
The outline by Murphy gives a preview of what might come next for New Jersey, which the governor describes as currently being in his "Stage 1." In Stage 2, retail would be expanded, outdoor dining would resume and indoor dining would be allowed with certain restrictions. Limited personal care operations would resume as well.
After that, Murphy says, "most activities" could resume in a Stage 3, with restrictions. Workers who can do their jobs from home would still be encouraged to. Limited entertainment would be allowed, though Murphy has warned large crowds will still be off-limits for some time.
He compared evolving social and regulatory standards to a "new normal" after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, likening voluntary social distance and mask-wearing — as well as the hard requirement to do the same in many settings — to tolerating extensive security checks at airports.
"In the months to come, it will more and more become second nature," Murphy said.