TRENTON, NJ — Just in time for Memorial Day Weekend, Gov. Phil Murphy lifted the 10-person limit on outdoor gatherings on Friday and has granted up to 25 to congregate so long as all individuals adhere to the proper COVID-19 safety protocols. 

Altering the restrictions does not impact indoor gatherings, which remain capped at 10 people.

“If you were looking forward to gathering with your neighbors for a Memorial Day cookout you may do so, so long as social distance and personal responsibility remain the order of the day,” said Murphy, whose Twitter page later posted the following message: “Enjoy this weekend, but do not be complacent. Keep up with your social distancing. Wear a face covering if you’re going out. Let’s prove that we can keep these trend lines moving in the right direction.”

Sign Up for West Essex Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

With the official re-opening of New Jersey beaches on Friday, state officials said this weekend will act a test of how residents handle the new norms of a trip to the Jersey Shore.

As he signs the executive order, Murphy explained that the state edges closer to Phase 2 of its six-point plan to re-open the Garden State. In other words, as long as residents continue to socially distance, the expansion on capacity paves the way for charter fishing, driving ranges and batting cages to operate more easily.

Following the continued easement of safety rules, Murphy said he expects to have guidance on graduations early next week.

“Because you have taken to heart all you’ve asked us to do to safeguard public health, we can take this step together, metrics from hospitals,” he said. 

Earlier this week, Essex County reported that the rate of increase has slowed significantly across all municipalities over recent weeks. The county saw a 6-percent increase in COVID-19 from May 12 to May 19 versus a 57-percent increase from April 7 to April 14.

Essex County data revealed the following totals of cases and deaths in West Essex as of Friday morning:

  • Caldwell: 100 cases (3 more than Thursday), 5 deaths
  • Essex Fells: 20 cases (same as Thursday), 2 deaths
  • Fairfield: 129 cases (2 more than Thursday), 17 deaths
  • North Caldwell: 40 cases (same as Thursday), 4 deaths
  • Roseland: 82 cases (2 more than Thursday), 15 deaths
  • West Caldwell: 200 cases (same as Thursday), 36 deaths

There were no additional deaths reported in these six towns between Thursday and Friday morning. 

The county noted that this data "will not match any other report since cases are continually entering the system, and local health departments may reassign place of residence as appropriate during their investigations."

The State of New Jersey confirmed a total of 152,719 COVID-19 cases on Friday, which represents an increase of 1,394 since Thursday, and 10,985 deaths (146 more than Thursday).

Today was the fifth consecutive day that New Jersey officials announced less than 200 additional deaths, and the 16th consecutive day with fewer than 2,000 additional cases.

The latest, including discharges and hospital census, is updated on the state’s health department website.