Gov. Phil Murphy said he will announce that all non-essential business will be closed for the foreseeable future by end of day Saturday.
Murphy, speaking at his daily coronavirus briefing Friday, said he was holding back on giving specifics because the coming executive order has not been fully determined.
Murphy also said the limits on public gatherings will be reduced, perhaps to 10, or just eliminated altogether.
“Nonessential businesses are going to be shut down,” he said. “Gatherings of any sort (will be reduced) — I’m not sure if we’ll be at 10 people or we’re going to zero and just eliminate any gatherings. Those are just the sort of the steps we’re looking at.”
Murphy stressed he is taking his time to make sure the wording — and meaning — is accurate.
“We don’t want to do this just to get a sugar high,” he said. “We want to do this with teeth and with the right substance. And … I don’t want to turn on CNN and look at a waterfront in New Jersey that looks like the waterfront in San Francisco, as it looked last night, even though they had ‘shelter in place.’ You had people literally by the hundreds, jogging, going shopping, holding hands, whatever. Enough.”
Murphy said there are two ways to give such directives.
“One is you’ve very open-ended and allow folks to interpret what you mean by essential and non-essential,” he said. “California has been more open-ended in that respect. The other end of the spectrum is very prescribed. Pennsylvania, for instance, is more prescribed, what they did last night. We want to get that balance right.
“It’s going to be part of the order. But bear with me, because I don’t have a crisp definition. The reason I went through that preamble is that we want to get that right.”
It’s unclear if the restrictions will be the most restrictive in the country. Murphy, in fact, said New Jersey already may have that distinction. The state has closed the roads and many non-essential businesses by 8 p.m., among other moves.
“If you look at what we already have in place, it’s frankly ahead of most places that are now claiming ‘shelter at home,’” he said. “So, there’s a lot of in-name-only stuff.
“We were the state that came out first and we felt strongly about restricting any nonessential travel between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. No state in America had done that. We called up our National Guard before any of the neighboring states.”
Murphy thinks more restrictions are the only way New Jersey can turn the tide on the coronavirus. The state announced 155 more positive tests, giving New Jersey 890 cases — good for fourth-most in the country. But it’s a number Murphy said is assuredly lower than the actual count.
“The only way we’re going to beat that virus is if we stay home and stay away from each other,” he said.
He’ll promises the next round of restrictions Saturday.
“If I had to put a phrase on it: It’s our-way-or-the-highway time,” he said. “I’m not trying to be mysterious. I just want to make sure as we’re piecing this together, we’re going to get it right.”