Santa Visit, Parades, Caroling, Family Gatherings, Christmas Tree and Menorah Lighting all Make the List of Mandatory or Suggested Changes as COVID-19 Rates of Transmissions Recently Fall to 1.11%. During the height of the pandemic the rate of transmission was 5.31%. The rate of transmission tracks whether the outbreak is increasing or declining.

TRENTON, NJ - While the rate of transmission of COVID-19 has dropped every single day for the last week, now hovering at 1.11%, a  little over the key metric of 1%, new rules on Santa Claus took center stage during Governor Murphy's press conference today.

With an open nod to Scrooge, Governor Murphy introduced new Christmas and Hanukah rules according to his Medical Director at the Department of Health, Dr. Edward Lifshitz. The new restrictions on Christmas and Hanukah were delivered in a rapid fire manner. 

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Dr. Ed Lifshitz stated, "We know that this is a time of year when we are used to gathering together with loved ones and friends to celebrate but this year we need to change how we enjoy the holidays - the Health Department will be issuing holiday guidance today that prioritizes the health and safety throughout the season. Dr. Lifshitz ran through about 16 rules the state is placing on New Jersey families:

The governor's guidance will include recommendations for:

  • Limited travel outside the home limiting indoor gatherings to household members
  • Visits with Santa with a preference for virtual or outdoor visits
  • Measures for choir performances and caroling
  • Christmas' tree and menorah lighting events should be held outdoors and must adhere to gathering limits
  • Consider alternatives to visiting Santa at indoor locations such as virtual visits or outdoor socially distanced visits and photos with Santa
  • Malls and other indoor locations that still choose to offer in person visits should be made by reservation, be socially distanced and time limited
  • Santa staff and guest over age 2 must wear masks
  • Children should not be permitted to sit on Santa's lap
  • Guidance also sets protocols for choirs and caroling  due to the increased risk of COVID-19 transmission
  • All singing group should be socially distance from each other and their audience during each performance
  • Singing groups that perform in public must be at least 10 feet away from others or have physical barriers between them and
  • Audience and all performers and guests must wear masks
  • Holiday parades are discouraged
  • Holiday parades should consider limiting in person attendance
  • Have any parade live streamed so the public can view it virtually
  • Parade participants should not be permitted to throw items from the floats or cars to spectators

"With increased cases we must continue to maintain our vigilance against COVID-19 and celebrate safely and responsibly to ensure healthy holidays" Said Dr. Lifshitz.

Governor Murphy stated, "As you start to make your holiday plans please recognize that the gathering limits are back to what they were in May and June when we all came together and crushed the curve as much as any state in the United States. We continue to urge you to keep gatherings as small as possible, particularly with individuals outside your household. As I've said, our steps continue to be dictated by careful analysis of science and data."

Stated Murphy, "If I may make my first holiday themed comparison of the week and of the season. That 'modeling' (of the novel coronavirus) is not unlike Scrooges fate at the end of A Christmas Carol. Remember, the model is like what the Ghost of Christmas Future showed Scrooge. Not images of what 'will be' but rather of what 'may be' should we not take any direct action or should we give in to pandemic fatigue. So as we recommit to social distancing, masking and good hand hygiene the model will take this into account and be updated hopefully for the better."

You can view the mandates and suggestions about minute 20: