Gov. Phil Murphy signed an order Thursday extending New Jersey’s public health emergency for another 30 days, as state officials and health experts nervously eye a potential rebound of COVID-19 in the fall that would coincide with flu season, despite a current lull in the prevalence of the virus.
Under state law, the governor has to extend the public health emergency every 30 days, or it automatically expires. New Jersey’s state of emergency has been in effect since March 9.
To date, COVID-19 has infected more than 190,000 New Jerseyans and claimed nearly 15,000 lives.
In order to halt the spread of the virus, Murphy enacted a set of sweeping closures, which shuttered sit-down dining, as well as many forms of retail, malls, casinos, theaters, nail and hair salons, and gyms.
Many of those restrictions are being relaxed, most recently gyms, which can reopen on Sept. 1 at 25 percent capacity and with face coverings required indoors.
Murphy said he would like to see limited capacity indoor dining resume by mid-September. Outdoor dining was allowed to resume on June 15.
Meanwhile, malls, casinos, all forms of retail, and nail and hair salons have all been allowed to resume operations, but at limited capacity.
Throughout the state, face coverings are required indoors and outdoors wherever 6-foot physical distancing isn’t possible—like on crowded boardwalks and busy downtowns.
“In New Jersey, we have made significant progress in the fight against COVID-19, but this fight is still not over,” the governor said in a Thursday statement. “Extending the public health emergency will provide us access to all available resources to continue saving lives and mitigating the spread of this virus.”
The rate of spread is slowing, coming in at 0.78, the governor announced on Thursday. Meanwhile, the positivity rate among COVID-19 tests has oscillated over 2 percent – both ideal metrics according to the governor.
And for the first time in months, New Jersey and neighboring New York and Connecticut shrank their self-quarantine advisory list of places from which travelers should isolate for 14 days, bringing it down to 31 states.