TRENTON, NJ – It was science that forced New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy to maintain an extended shut down of the restaurant, sports and fitness industries this summer, but now, Murphy is admitting that facts are telling him he might have been wrong all along. With an army of contact tracers ready to research COVID-19 cases, Murphy said on Wednesday that since the reopening of gyms, indoor dining and sports, there has been no indication or data to show those activities lead to the spread of COVID-19 as he vehemently declared during the height of the pandemic.
“We’re not aware of any specific outbreaks on gyms or indoor dining,” Murphy said. “However, there are sports-related outbreaks that we don’t have any evidence are related to the sport, but may well be related to adjacent activities. We’ve said this before, the whole team goes out for a pizza and they’re on top of each other. But in terms of the regular notion of a gym or indoor dining, we’re not aware at this point.”
Murphy had shut down the entire state’s indoor dining and fitness industry after declaring that the scientific data he was in possession of told him those activities were dangerous to the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Now, with the lack of any evidence to continue a prolonged chokehold on the industry, Murphy said if that data holds true, he could start easing restrictions on gyms and indoor dining across the state. Murphy initially cited a Chinese study that showed several restaurant patrons caught COVID-19 from a restaurant somewhere in China back in January as his science behind the extended closure of indoor dining this past summer.
“I think the extent to which, I would say a sustained lack of outbreaks in either gyms or indoor dining would ultimately, I can’t tell you when will ultimately lead to a decision on capacity,” he said.
On the other hand, Murphy and his administration still are not sharing their contact tracing findings with the public. While Murphy admits he was wrong on indoor dining and gyms so far, he’s not letting the residents of New Jersey know exactly what kind of data his army of nearly 2,000 contact tracers are finding. That data, like much of his scientific data through the pandemic, is being held by the government and away from the public. Murphy has not indicated if or when he would start making contact tracing data trends and analysis available to the public.