TRENTON, NJ -- At his daily COVID-19 press briefing on Wednesday, Gov. Phil Murphy announced the reopening schedule that continues tomorrow – with social distancing and face covering requirements in place – for the following businesses:

  • Casinos,
  • Outdoor amusement parks and water parks,
  • Museums and libraries,
  • Indoor recreation, and
  • Gyms/fitness centers (for individualized training by appointment only).

“We’re still moving forward as quickly as we can, but as safely as we must. We’re being deliberate in our decisions,” Murphy said. “We continue to be guided by medical science and the on-the-ground data, both here and nationally.”

Meanwhile, officials have begun to crack down on businesses that are not adequately enforcing social distancing regulations. The governor reported that officials in Jersey City yesterday began legal actions against The Factory Restaurant and Lounge for what they say are regular violations.

Sign Up for Verona/Cedar Grove Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

“I applaud (Jersey City Mayor) Steven Fulop and (Jersey City Prosecutor) Jake Hudnut for their zero-tolerance approach, and urge other municipal officials to take a similar stance,” Murphy said.

“Indoor environments where it’s impossible to wear masks, or where people are sedentary for long periods of time without masks – such as gyms, bars, and restaurants – remain the most dangerous in terms of transmission,” Murphy said. “We’ll get there, based on data and health metrics.”

“There is still a lot we don’t know about coronavirus, but we know two things with absolute certainty: outdoor environments are safer than indoor environments, and wearing a face covering is safer than not wearing a face covering,” he added.

The governor cautioned that spot positivity rate for tests from June 26th was 1.82% and that the rate of transmission ticked upward to 0.88.

”We must keep the Rt below 1 at all costs,” he said. “If we’re to continue on our road back, we must keep these numbers in check.”

The governor took pride in announcing that last night, CNN reported New Jersey was the only state besides Rhode Island to record a week-over-week reduction in new cases of 50% of more (according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins).

“We’ve put New Jersey at the top of the nation in terms of our response,” Murphy said, adding that “we are one of only four states currently on track to contain COVID-19, according to CovidActNow.

“We must stay in the green. Keep up with social distancing, wearing a face covering, washing your hands, and getting tested,” he advised.

By the numbers

The number of COVID patients remains substantially down since the peak in the spring. Murphy reported 1,080 hospitalized patients, of whom 217 were in either critical or intensive care. A total of 178 ventilators are in use. There were 54 new COVID-19 patients admitted yesterday, while 87 live patients were discharged. Sadly, there are another 45 deaths, pushing the statewide total to 13,224 lives lost.

“We know all too well what it is like to be in the red (states on the U.S. map where infection rates are going. I don’t want to go back. The only way is when you keep up brilliantly with face coverings and social distancing,” Murphy said.

The governor quoted infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, advising that congregation in a bar is "bad news."

“Even one knucklehead can ignite a COVID-19 flare up,” Murphy said. “Don’t be the match that starts a COVID wildfire. Use common sense for the common good.”