TRENTON, NJ – New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy on Monday applauded Newark Mayor Ras Baraka for his city’s sweeping COVID-19 lockdown that brought back non-essential business curfews and restrictions to barbershops and salons. Murphy said in a revealing statement that he could be using that same ‘playbook’ statewide and would not rule out a second statewide COVID-19 lockdown.
“I think we endorse — we’ve got a great partnership with Newark and this is no exception. So again, hats off to Mayor Baraka and we’re all over Newark, as you can imagine. To Carly’s questions from a couple of minutes ago, it won’t be the last hot spot, I fear, that we’ll be using that exact same playbook,” Murphy said.
Although Murphy said the current increase in virus cases stems from ‘fatigue’, people tired of the restrictions and rules, hosting indoor parties and gatherings, he’s not going to rule out shutting everything down again if he has to.
“It continues to feel to us is that a lot of these cases are coming out of fatigued behavior in private settings which are beyond, you know, our ability to effectively regulate and/or enforce compliance. If we thought or if we think that shifts – so there were very few steps you could take other than pleading with people to do the right thing and that’s what we’re doing, and that’s what we’ve been doing over the past month. And that’s what folks, to their enormous credit, overwhelmingly have been doing,” Murphy said. “I continue to believe, that there is not a blunt instrument, statewide step that we believe would effectively chop these numbers back down. I mean, we look at capacities by example, regularly; that’s something we’ll continue to look at. And that’s obviously we leave everything on the table. I don’t have a number for you as to where that would change. But, you know, clearly, not just jumps in numbers, but meaningful jumps in positivity or rates of transmission or hospitalizations.”
As New Jersey sees a significant uptick in COVID-19 positive cases, Murphy said “crushing statewide steps” remain on the table.
“We’ve already seen, obviously, some significant upticks. But remember, our rate of transmission at one point in March was 5.31. Judy, I forget our all-time high on positivity rates, but it was very much deep double-digits, and that’s when we were taking crushing statewide steps,” Murphy added. “That obviously remains on the table, but we do not believe that those steps match the moment in terms of where the cases are coming from.”