Murphy to New Jersey: Just Stay HomeDate: March 23, 2020
by Bob Towey
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy issued an executive order Saturday instructing state residents to remain home and indefinitely closing non-essential businesses to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
Murphy’s announcement also canceled all parties, religious services, and weddings to limit transmission of the virus. New Jersey joins Delaware, Louisiana, and Ohio as the only states with stay-at-home mandates.
“As I have said before, we can no longer maintain a sense of business as usual during this emergency,” Murphy said in a press conference explaining the order.
While the order permits residents to leave the house to exercise outdoors or buy supplies, Murphy emphasized social distancing of at least six feet between individuals. The governor also requested that residents stop traveling to secondary homes at the Jersey Shore during the outbreak because the region’s healthcare system cannot handle a spike in coronavirus patients.
Businesses allowed to continue operations include grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, and banks. Murphy fully suspended retail outside of those exceptions and said that all employees must have the opportunity to work remotely.
Although these measures combat the increasing number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey, they come at the expense of small business owners and employees already suffering financial hardships from the tumbling economy. Murphy recommended that struggling workers contact the state’s Department of Labor for guidance and urged companies to continue paying their workforce.
As of Sunday, Johns Hopkins University reported New Jersey had over 1,900 confirmed coronavirus cases while neighboring New York State’s nearly 15,800 patients represent almost half of the confirmed cases in the United States.
New Jersey has three public COVID-19 testing facilities to process potential cases. The first site at Bergen County Community College in Paramus launched on Friday, while the other two—at PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel and Kean University in Union—will start testing today.
State officials warn the public not to visit the centers without showing symptoms to avoid overwhelming the infrastructure and limiting treatment of more severe cases in need of testing.
The governor’s website explains that the Holmdel and Paramus facilities open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. everyday and offer tests until supplies run out. The Union site will operate on a prescription basis only according to a release from county officials.
“Expanding access to testing is vital in flattening the curve and mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in New Jersey,” Murphy said in a statement.