TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Gov. Phil Murphy announced the closure of all public schools, universities and several types of businesses as New Jersey saw a jump of 80 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the state’s coronavirus total to 178.
Among the new positive cases announced on Monday, the cases ranged from a 5-year-old to a 93-year-old, according to Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli.
Murphy announced the state’s third death related to COVID-19, a man in his 90s who was being treated at Hackensack University Medical Center.
Sad to announce our third death of an individual with #COVID19 – a male in his 90s who was being treated at @HackensackUMC in Bergen County. Our prayers are with his family during this difficult time.
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) March 17, 2020
Earlier, Murphy again reiterated the need to avoid panic but be mindful of avoiding unnecessary contact — especially after seeing people flocking to bars on the days just before St. Patrick’s Day.
“There is no reason that we should run the risk of infecting others,” he said. “No one should be considering going out to a bar. ”
Murphy’s executive order included the following:
- Banning gatherings of 50 or more people.
- All public, private, and parochial preschool programs, elementary and secondary schools, all charter and renaissance schools and institutions of higher education beginning Wednesday.
- All casinos, concert venues, nightclubs, racetracks, gyms, fitness centers and classes, movie theaters, and performing arts centers must close at 8:00 p.m. Monday.
- All other non-essential retail, recreational, and entertainment businesses must close after 8 p.m. Monday.
- All restaurant establishments, with or without a liquor or limited brewery license, are limited to offering delivery and/or take out-services only. No dine-in service will be allowed.
Murphy noted all students eligible for free or reduced meals will continue to get meals.
In terms of schools, several localities, such as the coronavirus hotspot Bergen County, have already closed all schools and imposed restrictions on several businesses.
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Starting at 8 p.m., most restaurants, bars, gyms, movie theaters and casinos must close until further notice. Restaurants and bars that serve food will still be allowed to fulfill to-go or delivery orders.
“This is not a time for selfishness. This is a time to think of those around you,” said Murphy. “There are some people out there who think this is fake news. This is not fake news. This is real.”
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On Monday night, Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco took social distancing restrictions even further, signing an executive order effective 11 p.m. Tuesday that bans all non-essential business indefinitely. It establishes an 8 p.m. curfew countywide and prohibits groups of five or more people from congregating in public.
“You can question my actions, but don’t question by reasons, because these actions are necessary. This is about preventing spread,” Tedesco said.
Authorities are also working to set up the state’s first drive thru testing center at Bergen Community College. It is projected to open by the end of the week.
“We will use and assist county employees and resources to help my fellow counties in getting more testing sites up and running,” Tedesco said.
As Bergen towns prepare for their new realities, so are residents like Payman Nejad. As a waiter at a Ridgewood restaurant, he typically relies on tips, but with the new restrictions, all he can do is hand people their take-out orders.
“I personally called my mortgage company today and told them I really cannot afford this month. I don’t know what to do and they didn’t have any guidelines,” Nejad said.
CBS2’s Ali Bauman asked Tedesco how he plans to enforce the new restrictions. He said he’s hoping the attorney general regulates businesses, and police break up groups larger than five people and direct anyone out past curfew to go home. Police, however, said they will likely not write tickets. As with Hoboken, exceptions to the curfew include emergencies and employees still required to work, like healthcare professionals.