What to Know
- New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy says aquariums, libraries, museums and some indoor recreation like arcades can reopen from their coronavirus pause on July 2.
- Murphy said Wednesday that masks will be required, and capacity must be limited to 25%.
- Murphy also said New Jersey Transit's rail and light rail will resume weekday service July 6.
Indoor fun and learning are returning to New Jersey before the Independence Day holiday as coronavirus cases have slowed.
Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday announced his plan for indoor and boardwalk arcades, museums, aquariums, bowling alleys, shooting ranges, libraries and more to reopen from COVID-19 closures on July 2.
In an attempt to keep people socially distant, capacity will be limited to 25%, Murphy said.
More guidance is expected soon, but one thing is certain - face masks will be required.
"This is not a polite suggestion - it is a requirement," Murphy said. "When indoors, you must keep your mouth and nose covered, except if you’re sitting down at a table to eat or drink, for religious purposes or your personal health requires it."
Not all indoor entertainment venues were given the go.
"Indoor entertainment venues, such as movie theaters, performing arts centers, concert venues and nightclubs, will remain closed," Murphy said. "Gyms and fitness centers will remain closed as well – although we will allow for individualized training sessions by appointment."
Murphy said guidance on personal training at gyms will be coming soon.
For several weeks now as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations have slowed in New Jersey, Murphy has phased in reopening plans for malls, pools, camps, eateries and more. On Tuesday, Murphy announced the reopening of outdoor amusement and water parks.
On Monday, July 6, NJ Transit will resume regular weekday service, Murphy announced Wednesday.
As of Wednesday, New Jersey had nearly 170,000 coronavirus cases and 12,995 people had died from COVID-19 complications. Forty-eight new deaths were announced Wednesday.
Despite New Jersey's hospitalization rate being down 86% from the peak, it climbed 11% compared with a week ago, Murphy said, imploring people to wear masks and continue to keep social distance even as the state reopens.
"We’re far from defeating COVID-19," Murphy said. "We’re in a good place to contain it, but it is not defeated. There is no vaccine and there is no proven therapy. There is only social distancing and wearing your face covering."
New Jersey, Rutgers Team Up for Contact Tracing
Part of New Jersey's reopening plan relies on contact tracing once a COVID-19 case is discovered. The Rutgers School of Public Health is helping New Jersey with contact tracing.
"(Rutgers) is creating a thoughtful process bringing together government entities, nonprofit partners, and the academic sector to better inform the entire contact tracing process," Murphy said.
More than 230 contact tracers are being on-boarded with 18 hours of training, Murphy said. They join 900 contact tracers already in place at the local and county levels. New contact tracers come from all of New Jersey's 21 counties and speak various languages.
Contact tracers must complete 18 hours of online training. They will reach out to people who had contact with someone with the disease.
“Receiving a call does not mean you have the virus,” Deandrah Cameron, part of the Rutgers community contact tracing corps, said.
The hope of the tracing is to stop coronavirus spread before people may unwittingly spread the virus, Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said.
All of the state's county health departments will all be using the same app for contact tracing by early July, Persichilli said.
Murphy said that state still hopes to get the total contact tracing corps up to 2,500 to 4,000 people.
New Jersey Joins Neighboring States in Requiring Some to Quarantine
New Jersey joined neighboring states in requiring people coming from currently hard-hit states to isolate.
New York, Connecticut and New Jersey will require visitors from states with high infection rates to quarantine for 14 days, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.
“We now have to make sure the rates continue to drop," Cuomo said. “We also have to make sure the virus doesn’t come on a plane again.”
Cuomo announced what was called a “travel advisory” at a briefing jointly via video feeds with fellow Democrats Murphy and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont.
Visitors from states over a set infection rate will have to quarantine, Cuomo said. As of Wednesday, states over the threshold were Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington, Utah and Texas.
The quarantine restriction includes New Jersey residents returning from hard-hit states, Murphy said.
Murphy said Wednesday that a public relations campaign will be utilized to spread the word about the quarantine requirement.
Murphy urged people to "do the right thing."