NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- New restrictions on indoor gatherings took effect in New Jersey Tuesday, part of an effort by officials to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Indoor gatherings are limited to a maximum of 10 people.
Starting on Monday, November 23, outdoor gatherings will be limited to a maximum of 150 people.
Governor Phil Murphy said some indoor gatherings may continue under the current rules - limited to 25% of a room's capacity, up to 150 people:
-Religious services/celebrations and political events
"We think those are steps, coupled with the other steps we have taken, which will hopefully begin to shake these numbers down," he told MSNBC. "This is a lot of fatigue. It's a lot of private setting transmission. Particularly with the holidays coming up, we've got to plead with people to not let their hair down, to be vigilant, social distance, face coverings, all the basic stuff we know works."
The state has now reported more than 4,000 new cases in three of the last four days. Saturday and Sunday case numbers are the first- and second-highest daily counts recorded in New Jersey since the first confirmed case when this pandemic began on March 4.
On Tuesday, New Jersey reported 4,060 new cases and 38 additional deaths. The positivity rate statewide is at 8.73%.
The seven-day average is 40% higher than a week ago and 325% higher than a month ago.
"It's gotten worse, and it's going to get worse," Murphy said. "We've got to be honest with folks that particularly with the cold weather, with the holidays, this is going to get worse. Please God, it doesn't get to the levels that we saw in the spring. I think our peak hospitalization in the spring was 8,300. We are now at about 1,900, 2,000. Thank God we are not at those levels. But it's going to get worse, so we are both pleading with people to remember their personal responsibilities, especially when they are at private settings."
Murphy said the state is very concerned about indoor sports, especially hockey. Going forward, indoor sports practices or competitions will be allowed to exceed the 10-person limit - ONLY for individuals necessary, such as players, coaches, and referees. In most cases, where those necessary individuals exceed 10 people, spectators will not be permitted.
"Indoor sports is an area of concern," Murphy said. "I've got nothing against hockey, but watch yourselves. We have that high on the list right now. And unless we see better compliance and lower levels of infection, we will take action. "
Officials blame Halloween parties for the current spike in cases, and Murphy is urging people not to have large gatherings as Thanksgiving approaches.
"These numbers are ALARMING and continue to rise," Murphy tweeted. "Take this seriously. Wear a mask. Social distance. Stay safe."
It was announced over the weekend that New Jersey counties and municipalities may now order an 8 p.m. curfew on nonessential businesses to stop the spread of COVID-19.
New restrictions also took effect last Thursday that limit the hours for indoor service at bars and restaurants.
Also, New Jersey is suspending in-person grand jury sessions and trials. Grand jury sessions will now be virtual.
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