TRENTON, N.J. (PIX11) — New Jersey residents likely will not see any new reopening announcements in the coming weeks as the state battles a surge in COVID-19 variants, Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday.
Speaking on CNN the governor said any further reopenings or capacity increases are on pause in the Garden State because of the increase in virus variants.
“We’ve got these variants: whether they be Brazil, South Africa, U.K., New York City, whatever it might be—they’re in New Jersey,” Murphy said. “We’re the densest state in America, we’re in the densest region in America. Plus, you combine that with the cold weather that we’ve had over the last couple of months—we’re still in the thick of this thing.”
New Jersey doubled the national average of new cases within the past week. Current capacity limits in the state, which rose to 50% for indoor dining on Friday, could stay this way for quite some time, Murphy said.
Gyms, health clubs, recreational facilities, arcades, and personal care businesses are also at 50% indoor capacity.
Most indoor gatherings are capped at 25 people, except for religious services or ceremonies, political events, weddings, performances, funerals, or performances. Outdoor gatherings that are not religious ceremonies or services, weddings, or political events are limited to 50 individuals.
New Jersey’s deliberate approach could put considerable pressure on local mayors, including Paterson’s Andre Sayegh.
“We’ve seen an increase in our daily infection rate,” Sayegh said. ” Retail, you obviously can’t have enough people in your stores. The weather is going to get warmer. We’re gonna have sidewalk sales in downtown Paterson. We’re going to start a little earlier, because we feel like the weather will be conducive to having these sidewalk sales.”
Dr. Stephanie Silvera, epidemiologist, and professor of Public Health at Montclair State University, said the fact of the matter is, New Jersey has vaccinated only about 14% of its adult population.
“What we cannot afford to do, and we’ve seen this from last year, is to let down our guard, and start gathering with large group of people in close contact without masks,” Dr. Silvera said.