N.J. to allow (retail stores in) indoor malls to open June 29

Gov. Phil Murphy announced Thursday that the state will allow large portions of indoor shopping malls to open June 29 — noting the executive order does not allow for the opening of indoor restaurants or indoor entertainment, such as movie theatres or arcades.

Murphy said mall customers will be required to wear face coverings at all times while indoors — with exceptions solely for residents with medical conditions that make wearing a face covering impossible, and children under 2.

Speaking at his daily COVID-19 briefing, the governor also said businesses within the indoor portions of a mall will be treated just as they would if they were located outside of a shopping mall — meaning they can only operate at 50% of capacity.

As is the case with outdoor malls, Murphy said common areas, such as communal seating and food courts, must remain closed.

Murphy also said the state is asking mall operators to establish building-specific policies and customer-flow plans to minimize congestion points — this potentially includes creating entrance-only and exit-only points, if feasible.

He also said sanitization materials must be provided to both mall employees and customers, particularly at entrances.

“Certainly, malls are part of New Jersey culture and lore,” he said. “We want these businesses to get back up and running responsibly and safely. And, we ask everyone who wishes to head out to the mall to comply with the requirements in place — keep your distances, wear a face covering and follow pedestrian directions.”

The numbers

Murphy said there were 442 additional COVID-19 cases, raising the state total to 168,107. He also announced there were 38 additional fatalities, raising that total to 12,800.

Hospital metrics, as of 10 p.m. Thursday:

  • In hospital: 1,268;
  • In ICU: 319;
  • On vents: 257;
  • In/Out: 73/134;
  • Rate of transmission: 0.75 (number of cases each new case creates);
  • In field hospitals: 4;
  • Positivity rate: 2.94% (from June 13).

Final word

Murphy, on the U.S. Supreme Court decision that upholds DACA (see the full story here):

I cannot put it any clearer — our Dreamers are every bit as American as my and Tammy’s four kids. They grew up here. They were educated in our schools. They attend our colleges and universities. They are building their own careers and families.

“I am proud the court saw the (President Donald) Trump administration’s efforts to dismantle this program as the unlawful step it was. And, I am extremely grateful to Attorney General Gurbir Grewal for his work in defending not just DACA, but the futures of thousands of New Jerseyans.

“With this case settled, I am hopeful that Congress will finally move to further support our Dreamers and provide a path to full citizenship. And, New Jersey will be there to help.”

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