TRENTON, NJ -- Gov. Phil Murphy today signed an Executive Order allowing some additional outdoor recreational areas and businesses to restart their operations effective Friday, May 22. These businesses include: batting cages, golf ranges, archery ranges, horseback riding, private tennis clubs, and community gardens, he announced during his daily COVID-19 press conference.
The governor said the state is opening up businesses in a way that still provides maximum protection for residents.
"We’ve reopened our parks and put in place plans to have our beaches and lakefronts open – with social distancing guidelines in place," Murphy said, explaining that we are in "Stage 1" of the state's reopening. He said that "Stage 2" is where we’re working to get to next: a broader restart of our economy, including:
- Expanded retail
- Outdoor dining
- Limited personal care
- Museums and Libraries
The governor said we cannot resume everything at once and that we need "groupings of steps over time... and make sure the data works." He also said he would make decisions "as cautiously as we must," although today "we are in a better place."
"We’re not nearly out of the woods yet – but we’re moving forward, carefully, methodically, and responsibly. Together, we’re moving toward what we must all acknowledge will be a 'new normal'," Murphy said. "We’re going to move deliberately based on data. We have to move forward based on the facts. Together, we’ll get to the end of this journey stronger and fairer than ever."
The governor described "the hardest nuts to crack" as businesses that take place indoors with relatively close contact. He said we would reduce restrictions and let restaurants open again, starting with outside dining. Not everything will happen at once, but rather in steps. Murphy also said he looks forward to "limited summer camps" and is looking at what things will be like when kids return to school and to colleges in the fall.
During the press conference, he compared the COVID-19 pandemic to 9/11 in how things will change in a new normal, and cited enhanced security measures at airports as an example of something that has changed since before the 9/11 terror attacks.
"Six weeks ago, when I was asked whether there would even be a summer at the Shore, I was optimistic but unsure," Murphy said. "Now, we have the plans in place, and we know we will have a summer."
The governor reported 1,735 new positive COVID-19 cases, bringing our total to 148,039, a figure that represents cumulative positive cases, but not the current number of people who have tested positive. He also announced an additional 83 new COVID-19 deaths in the state, bringing New Jersey's total of loss of life to 10,435.
While an out-sized proportion of our statewide COVID-19 deaths are related to our long-term care facilities, the 7-day average shows a slowing rate, according to the governor. He also said that we have seen important trends:
- Number of patients being treated for COVID-19 is down significantly
- Number of people entering our hospitals is down significantly
- Number of patients reported in either critical or intensive care fell to 1,053.
- Ventilator use dropped to 819.
- 334 new COVID-19 hospitalizations vs. 190 discharges yesterday.
- Field Medical Stations reported only 40 patients.
"This is New Jersey. We’ve risen to every challenge thrown our way since our very founding," Murphy said. "We’ve always – always – rolled with the punches and punched above our weight. Now is our time to shine."
NJ COVID-19 Positive Cases: 148,039 (by County)
Atlantic: 1,807 • Bergen: 17,459 • Burlington: 3,986 • Camden: 5,573 • Cape May: 506 • Cumberland: 1,679 • Essex: 16,660 • Gloucester: 1,907 • Hudson: 17,574 • Hunterdon: 846 • Mercer: 5,950 • Middlesex: 14,752 • Monmouth: 7,408 • Morris: 6,092 • Ocean: 7,994 • Passaic: 15,278 • Salem: 465 • Somerset: 4,278 • Sussex: 1,061 • Union: 14,903 • Warren: 1,086 • Under Investigation: 835.
NJ COVID-19 Deaths: 10,435 (by County)
Atlantic: 112 • Bergen: 1,460 • Burlington: 245 • Camden: 275 • Cape May: 41 • Cumberland: 53 • Essex: 1,546 • Gloucester: 117 • Hudson: 1,068 • Hunterdon: 52 • Mercer: 408 • Middlesex: 888 • Monmouth: 513 • Morris: 569 • Ocean: 633 • Passaic: 839 • Salem: 20 • Somerset: 375 • Sussex: 138 • Union: 962 • Warren: 121.
"I want to say 'Thank You' to the millions of you who are the reason we can move forward with our plans," Murphy said. "It’s because of you that the curves have flattened. I know we can continue to rely on you to flatten them even further as we begin our restart."