Murphy issues stay-at-home order for New Jersey, bans gatherings

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy ordered residents to stay home, banned all gatherings and told nonessential retail businesses to close in order to slow the spread of the coronovirus.

“I take personal responsibility for the public health and safety of New Jersey,” he tweeted. “If you are unhappy about our aggressive social distancing measures, I’m sorry. But your safety is my highest priority.”


Murphy said he guessed that restrictions would have to remain for “weeks to months.”

The governor announced Saturday that there had been five more deaths from the virus, for a total of 16 in the state. There were more than 440 new positive tests for a total of more than 1,300, something he attributed to testing in the state that had been “ahead of the curve.”


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But he ordered all residents to stay at home with some exceptions, such as obtaining essential goods or services, seeking medical attention, visiting family or close friends, reporting to work, or engaging in outdoor activities. Gatherings such as weddings, in-person services and parties are banned, he said.

“It pains me that important life moments cannot be celebrated the way they are supposed to,” Murphy said. “Any place where people congregate is a place where coronavirus can be spread.”

Murphy also argued people not to go to second homes at the Jersey Shore, saying the shore towns aren’t prepared for the influx.

The governor’s executive order also orders closure of nonessential retail businesses and tells businesses to make arrangements for employees to work from home where possible.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli provide an update on the state's response to the deadly coronavirus. (Edwin J. Torres/Governor’s Office)

Businesses that can remain open include grocery stores, pharmacies, medical marijuana dispensaries, medical supply stores, gas station, convenience stores, home improvement stores, banks, laundromats, pet stores, liquor stores, auto repair shops, office supply stores, mail and delivery stores.

Gov. Murphy and Superintendent of the State Police Colonel Patrick Callahan announced Tuesday an Administrative Order, permitting additional retail businesses to operate during their normal business hours. Effective immediately, the following businesses are considered essential:

– Mobile phone retail and repair shops

– Bicycle shops, but only to provide service and repair

– Livestock feed stores

– Nurseries and garden centers

– Farming equipment stores

Businesses that remain operational must comply with social distancing.

The Administrative Order also clarifies that municipalities may impose additional restrictions on beaches and boardwalks.

“Life in New Jersey does not have to come to a complete standstill,” Murphy said. “Residents can still go for a walk or go for a run outside. ... If you do go outside for these activities, or head to the grocery store, we’re urging ... no, we’re ordering everyone to practice social distancing and keep a safe, six-foot difference between you and others.”

Asked how long he expected the restrictions to last, Murphy said he guessed it would be “somewhere measured in weeks to months.”

“This is not next week. I wish it were,” he told reporters. He said no final decision had been made on how long schools would remain closed, but “the chances are overwhelming we’re not going back to school a week from Monday.”

Murphy earlier announced the indefinite closure of libraries across the state.

The governor also announced a new website where residents can find up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 in New Jersey.


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The Associated Press contributed to this report.