In a briefing Thursday, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy increased capacity limits for indoor businesses. The new measure will take effect Friday, March 19th, and businesses such as restaurants, gyms, and barber shops will be able to increase indoor capacity to 50%. Murphy also announced that indoor events such as funerals, political events, and church services will be capped at 25 guests. The state also hopes to improve long term care accommodations.
“We feel confident in these steps given the data that we’ve been seeing over the past five weeks since the last time we expanded the indoor reality,” Murphy said at the briefing. “We believe that when all factors are weighed, we can make this expansion without leading to undo further stress on our healthcare system.”
Murphy said that the state’s mask mandate will remain in effect and that progress will continue incrementally.
“As you keep up with social distancing, wearing your masks, getting vaccinated when you can and the like, we can continue to responsibly reopen,” Murphy said.
Murphy was joined by the Commissioner of the Department of Health, Judith Persichilli, who provided updates on long term care facilities as it relates to the pandemic.
The Department of Health is working towards accommodations for long term care visitations, an effort that hopes to ensure that staff, residents, and visitors remain safe.
“We know that COVID-19 remains in our communities, and we must maintain our vigilance to ensure that the appropriate safeguards are in place for these vulnerable residents,” Persichilli said at the briefing.
Persichilli said that, while the number of outbreaks at long term care facilities continues to decline, there are still 273 active outbreaks in these facilities. She expects progress to continue as staff and residents receive vaccinations.
Persichilli announced that there will be phases of reopening for these facilities. These facilities must meet criteria for this to occur, which includes testing of staff and residents, infection control protocols, adequate staffing, and personal protective equipment. However, compassionate care, essential caregiving, end of life visitations, and outdoor visitations can take place even when indoor visitation restrictions are in place due to the facility’s status.