Gov. Phil Murphy — coming under increased scrutiny from businesses and municipalities — welcomed the opportunity to reiterate that New Jersey is entering phase 2 of its reopening plan Monday.
“Our restaurants will be able to reopen for outdoor dining, and our non-essential retail stores will be able to once again welcome customers back inside,” he said. “I know many of these business owners are anxious get back to serving their customers and being part of their communities.
“And, we have put the health and safety protocols in place to give you confidence that you can go back out for dinner, or back to a favorite shop. And, as we discussed yesterday, we know that consumer confidence is, by far, the greatest concern of our business owners. We’re all in this together, as we move into this next phase of our restart and recovery.”
Murphy, after announcing the state will go to court to stop Asbury Park’s attempt to reopen indoor dining Monday — rattled off all the businesses that will be allowed to open a week from Monday, on June 22: beauty salons, barbershops, cosmetology shops, day spas — but not saunas, steam rooms or shared bathing facilities — and medical spas that solely perform elective and cosmetic medical procedures, electrology facilities, hair braiding shops, massage parlors, nail salons, tanning salons and tattoo parlors.
Murphy said everyone inside a personal care business will be required to wear a mask or face covering at all times, unless a client is receiving a service that requires them to remove it. And, should that happen, staff providing services must not only wear a mask, but also utilize a face shield, goggles or table shield to provide additional protection.
Additionally, there will be strict sanitization and disinfection requirements across a whole host of areas.
Murphy also said the state will release guidance for organized sports to also resume June 22 and that the Department of Education is releasing guidance that will allow school districts to conduct in-person summer educational programs, including Extended School Year and special education services, beginning July 6.
“We’re able to make these announcements today, and set these programs in motion, because our health metrics tell us we can,” he said — citing the fact that the transmission rate in the state is now among the lowest in the country.
Murphy said this stat and others — including an increase in cases elsewhere — shows the moves he has made have been the right ones.
“Right now, the national news is reporting about other states witnessing spikes in COVID-19 cases and impacts — states which rushed to reopen without taking the time to put protocols in place, or even waiting for the wave to subside,” he said. “The foolhardiness of their actions is now being seen.”
Other notes from the briefing, which — at about 45 minutes — was one of his shortest:
Murphy announced there were 495 additional COVID-19 cases, raising the state total to 166,164. He also announced there were 48 additional fatalities, raising that total to 12,489.
Murphy said that, this weekend, he anticipates passing a solemn milestone in the pandemic, as the death toll from COVID-19 will, in all likelihood, surpass the number of New Jerseyans killed during World War II.
The main hospital metrics continue to drop rapidly. Here are the numbers, as of 10 p.m. Thursday:
- Hospitalizations: 1,480;
- In intensive/critical care: 415;
- On ventilators: 300;
- Admitted: 117;
- Discharged: 133;
- Positivity rate: 2.5% (from June 8).
Murphy said that, on Monday, Interfaith Urgent Care and St. Matthew AME Church in Orange will open the state’s first church-based COVID-19 testing site, at St. Matthew AME.
“The AME Church has a long legacy of community progress and in removing barriers to access based on historic and systemic racism, and this continues that tradition,” he said. “Bringing testing directly into our communities — and especially with our partners in the faith community — is a huge step forward.
“COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on our communities of color, and testing is one way we can better safeguard them for the future. The idea for this testing site came from the daily call our administration holds with our faith leaders, and I am hopeful that we’ll get many more open in houses of worship and community centers across the state.”
The final word
Murphy acknowledged Friday was Women’s Veterans Day, noting more than 25,000 women from New Jersey have served.
However, we recognize that the barriers that still exist for many of our military veterans know no gender. So, we recommit to ensuring that our veterans have fuller access to educational and job training programs, to housing and health care services — especially mental health — among so much else.
So, to every woman veteran in New Jersey, we thank you for your service, and we honor your commitment to our nation’s founding ideals.”