As neighboring states tighten COVID-19 orders, NJ stands pat

Despite neighboring states tightening their coronavirus restrictions on businesses and gatherings this week, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy did not hand down heightened orders amid the second-wave of coronavirus.

Earlier this week, the democratic governor insisted that officials were not planning on shutting down indoor dining in an effort to control the spread. However, Murphy noted that if health officials saw "explicit waves of transmission coming out of the indoor dining experience, obviously we'd have a different approach."

Indoor dining in New Jersey is currently limited to 25 percent capacity. Most indoor gatherings are capped at 10 people, with exceptions made to religious services, weddings and funerals. Unlike Pennsylvania, which moved to shutter gyms, theaters, and all-league sports, the Garden State has allowed entertainment businesses to remain open at 25% capacity.

On Monday, Murphy noted the difference between the spring when shutdowns were implemented and the current surge in cases. 

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (Edwin J. Torres/Governor's Office)

"We were about to run out of hospital beds, ventilators, PPE. We were at the edge, and the fact of the matter is we spent the past – I guess of the nine months, probably the past six to seven months rebuilding those capacities," Murphy said. "We do have hospitalizations that are up meaningfully, and I guess my guess is that they're going to go higher, but they're still about 5,000 beds shy of the peak in the spring."

In recent weeks, New Jersey has implemented some new restrictions primarily focused on both indoor and outdoor gatherings. The state also halted indoor sports.

Still, some businesses have taken advantage of the comparatively lighter rules in New Jersey. Murphy detailed 10 restaurants and bars facing possible liquor license suspensions for flouting the state's coronavirus orders. Among the establishments, Jalapenos Bar and Grill in Gloucester City faces a 20-day ban of liquor sales and B&B Saloon in Atlantic City was slapped with a potential 115-day suspension.

Murphy said it gives officials "no pleasure" to file violation charges against the hamstrung bar and restaurant industry, but they are necessary to ensure guidelines are being met. 

"Let these charges send a perfectly clear signal to any bar or restaurant owner who thinks that the rules don't apply to them, this will happen to you," Murphy said. "We will not tolerate knucklehead behavior and we will not hesitate to shut you down."

New Jersey reported over 3,800 new coronavirus infections with 55 virus-related deaths. The rate of transmission in the state, which estimates how many people an infected person will pass the virus on to, climbed to 1.14. Murphy said hospitalizations in the state are rising at a slower rate over the past week. 

Thursday, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced indoor dining would be shut down in his state as of Saturday morning. A round of sweeping new restrictions in Pennsylvania will also shutter gyms, casinos, museums, and libraries. They also halt school sports and include an indoor gathering limit of 10, an outdoor gathering limit of 50, and capacity restrictions at retail stores.

Pennsylvania's restrictions will remain in effect until at least Jan. 4, 2021.

Delaware Gov. John Carney stopped short of halting indoor dining in his list of new restrictions that will go into effect next week.

Instead, Delaware will be implementing a 10 p.m. curfew for bars and restaurants.

Delaware businesses larger than 100,000 square feet are limited to 20 percent capacity. Smaller businesses and public spaces open to the public must stay below 30 percent capacity. Houses of worship and funeral services are capped at 40 percent capacity.

Murphy will address the latest coronavirus developments in his state at 2 p.m. You can watch his briefing on and in the FOX 29 News app.



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