TRENTON, NJ – New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy this week strongly advised New Jerseyans against congregating with people outside of their immediate household. Last week, Murphy even said to avoid inviting more than 10 family members to your Thanksgiving dinner. This week, Murphy said it’s ok to co-mingle families and friends, but only at New Jersey’s restaurants. Murphy imposed a 10 person limit on gatherings but has now excluded that limit for restaurants, because well, we can only assume that’s how COVID-19 works.
“And let me reiterate that separate groups who are dining outdoors at our restaurants do not constitute a single gathering. Outdoor dining is unaffected by today’s announcement. It continues to be governed by the health and safety regulations already in place,” Murphy said. ” So, while we know that outdoor environments are safer than indoor environments, and there’s no question about that, during this dangerous period, any type of mass gathering creates risk. As you start to make your holiday plans, please recognize that the gathering limits are back to what they were in May and June, when we all came together and crushed the curve as much as any state in the United States.”
In Ocean County, three Republican legislators pushed for a $15,000 fine this spring for violating Murphy’s executive order. New Jersey State Senator James Holzapfel and Assemblymen Gregory P. McGuckin (Toms River) and John Catalano (Brick) moved to pass a bill that would fine New Jerseyans for violating Murphy’s caps on indoor and outdoor gatherings.
This week, a source very close to McGuckin said that wasn’t true, arguing that limit was just for Orthodox Jews living in Lakewood and not for the rest of the state, although McGuckin’s bill did not mention Orthodox Jews nor define a geographic location for the fine. The bill called for a blanket fine statewide for any violations of Governor Murphy’s executive orders regarding capacity at gatherings.
“We continue to urge you to keep gatherings as small as possible, particularly with individuals outside of your household. As I’ve said, our steps continue to be dictated by careful analysis of science and data,” Murphy said.