The Murphy administration has begun gradually rolling back the expansive restrictions that have kept the state in near-total lockdown as the COVID-19 pandemic shows promising signs of slowing down.
Hospitalizations, new cases and fatalities have consistently dropped week over week, according to the state’s Department of Health.
On May 18, the governor laid out a guide for when along the pandemic’s timeline certain businesses can reopen. It includes three phases, leading to a “new normal,” where life has mostly returned to a pre-pandemic standard of living.
“This is not going to be one moment in time that we’re going to turn the lights, flip them back on,” Murphy said at a May 7 press conference.
“Somebody used an analogy of not a light switch, but a light dimmer and getting brighter and brighter over time.”
The following is a list of those changes, which will be updated as necessary.
State and county parks have been reopened since May 2, with limited capacity parking and 6-foot minimum social distancing. Face-coverings are strongly encouraged, and group activities such as sports and picnics are prohibited. Restrooms, previously ordered to stay closed, can now reopen, the governor announced May 14.
Golf courses have also reopened May 2 with social distancing requirements. Common areas are closed, and face coverings are required.
Retail previously considered “non-essential” can resume business as of May 18 at 6 a.m., but only for online ordering and curbside pickup.
Non-essential construction projects can resume, starting the morning of May 18.
Beaches can reopen as of May 22, with a variety of restrictions, such as reduced capacity and social distancing requirements. Group events such as fireworks, summer camps and concerts cannot open. Rides, waterparks, arcades and picnic areas also cannot open.
Starting May 26, hospitals and medial providers can begin offering some elective surgeries—just “urgent procedures,” for now. Providers will be required to take several steps to ensure incoming patients are not infected with the virus.
As of May 17, boat rentals and charter fishing are allowed to reopen for business, with a cap of 10 people on a vessel at a time. Masks must be worn by guests and workers, reservations must be made in advance, fishing equipment cannot be shared, and all parts of the boat must be frequently sanitized.
You can find our guide to COVID-19 restrictions imposed on businesses here.
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 2:28 p.m. EST on May 15, 2020, to include information about elective surgeries. It was updated again on May 18, 2020, at 10:20 a.m. EST to include information on boat rentals and chartered fishing boats. It was updated at 3:42 p.m. EST on May 19, 2020, to include details about Gov. Phil Murphy’s three-phase guide to reopening businesses and information for the reopening of car and motorcycle dealerships and bicycle shops.
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