NJ Coronavirus: New restrictions start for outdoor gatherings in New Jersey

New Jersey coronavirus update

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Monday, December 7, 2020
New outdoor gatherings restrictions begin in NJ
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Joe Torres reports on New Jersey's new outdoor gathering limit going into effect on Monday.

NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- A new outdoor gathering limit went into effect in New Jersey on Monday.

The new gathering limit that went into effect Monday morning drops the number of those who can gather from 150 people to 25 people.

"As we battle the second wave of COVID-19, we must continue to take all steps necessary to prevent needless infections, hospitalizations, and deaths from this deadly virus," said Governor Phil Murphy. "While there is hope on the horizon in the form of several vaccines, in the interim, we are taking these steps today to protect our communities. It is our intention for indoor sports to resume in the New Year, but this can only happen if our state remains committed to the fight against COVID-19."

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Wedding ceremonies, funerals, memorial services, and religious and political activities are not subject to the outdoor gatherings limit. All other types of gatherings, such as a high school football game or an outdoor concert, will be limited to 25 individuals.

Athletes, coaches, referees and other individuals necessary for a professional or collegiate sports competition are not counted towards the 25-person limit.

Indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people, but with certain exceptions.

"Indoor holiday gatherings should be limited to immediate household members if possible, and intergenerational gatherings should be avoided also whenever possible," N.J. Department of Health Communicable Disease Service Medical Director Dr. Edward Lifshitz said.

Although coronavirus cases saw a significant decrease Monday compared to Sunday's record-high single day report of more than 6,000 positive cases since the pandemic began, small business owners are fearing more restrictions from the state.

John Sideris is well aware of the surging coronavirus numbers across the Garden State, and while he understands the importance of health and safety, the Ramsey Cafe owner fears more restrictions from the state will further cripple his 21-year-old business.

"Nobody is coming out, especially in the winter months," Sideris said. "Everybody is making them still scared to leave their homes, so it's devastating to all the small business owners."

"COVID fatigue" is also becoming more and more of a concern.

"The rate of non-cooperation with our contact tracers is no up to a whopping 74% of cases," Murphy said. "Quite frankly this is unacceptable and we need folks to turn that around."

Over the weekend, Paterson law enforcement officials shut down two clubs that were illegally operating and selling alcohol past 10 p.m.

Gov. Murphy tweeted about the incident.

As for the vaccine, the governor is on record saying he will get it when its his turn. So far, six hospitals are set to receive the first doses, including University Hospital in Newark. However, in the meantime, Murphy is worried about increasing number of COVID patients going to emergency rooms.

The governor said on Friday that several hospitals in the state are pre-positioning to receive the first shipments of Pfizer's vaccine. Murphy anticipates that this first distribution will include roughly 76,000 doses.

"We'll be situated to begin providing vaccinations after FDA emergency use authorization," Murphy said.

The governor also signed an executive order changing inclusion in the NJ Immunization Information System from OPT-IN to OPT-OUT for any resident who chooses to take a COVID-19 vaccine. He says it will add efficiency for those who take the vaccine and it doesn't mean that anyone will be forced to take it.

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