New Jersey will require restaurants to stop indoor dining by 10 p.m. and will prohibit all indoor, interstate organized sports up to the high school level in an effort to slow the resurgence of Covid-19, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday.
The new rules take effect Thursday morning, the governor said during his regular coronavirus briefing in Trenton.
“The last thing I want to do is shut our economy back down. Thankfully, we’re not at that point,” Murphy said. “These are the measures we are taking now, and they do not preclude us from taking further action in other areas or placing other restricting on these in the near future.
“The good news is that a vaccine is on the horizon — we anticipate broad distribution by this spring. We have a plan ready should that time frame hold,” Murphy said. “We have to snap back into reality. This virus hasn’t gone away, and it is posing its greatest threat to us in months.”
Pfizer earlier Monday announced positive results of an early analysis of its coronavirus vaccine trial. Those results show the vaccine was more than 90 percent effective among trial volunteers.
The new restrictions: Restaurants, bars, clubs, lounges and casinos will no longer be able to serve indoors between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., Murphy said. Restaurants can continue with outdoor dining.
Moreover, bar seating will be banned under the new restrictions. But bars and restaurants will be allowed to seat groups of people at tables closer than six feet together, if they are separated by plexiglass. Restaurants will also be allowed to set up “outdoor igloos.”
The governor is also banning indoor interstate sports for elementary through high school students. Those restrictions don’t impact professional or collegiate sports.
Background: The new restrictions are being imposed as cases of coronavirus are surging in New Jersey.
The state reported an additional 2,075 coronavirus cases on Monday, for a total of 256,653 cases since early March. Since last Thursday, New Jersey has recorded 9,524 additional cases — Murphy said that’s an average of 2,381 each of the past four days. There were also 11 additional deaths, bringing the total lives lost to 14,640 total covid-related deaths.
Hospitalizations also reached 1,537, Murphy said, the first time since June 9 that total hospitalizations have topped 1,500.
The vaccine: Murphy said that despite the early good news from Pfizer, New Jerseyans need to stay vigilant, predicting that the United States is potentially “plus or minus” six months before the virus is under control.
“This is not forever and always we got a six-month window, basically, to keep this thing at check,” Murphy said during an appearance on CNBC early Monday. “We’re not entirely in the clear, but a dramatically different and better place as much as six months from now.”
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