Gov. Phil Murphy on Tuesday ordered a statewide closure of all malls and amusement parks and centers, effective at 8 p.m., in the latest bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus across the state.
This comes after the governor on Monday rolled out a voluntary 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew; a ban on events with more than 50 attendees; and the closure of movie theaters, gyms and bars.
Essential retail – such as medical offices and grocery stores – can stay open during the day and only have to adhere to the 50-person limit. But, many grocery stores and other retailers have already begun scaling back hours to restock shelves amid soaring demand.
Additionally, restaurants in the state can only serve food for delivery and take-out, Murphy said. The governor also closed all schools in the state on Monday.
While Murphy is for now only discouraging any non-essential travel between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m., he has repeatedly flexed his authority to ramp that measure up to a mandated curfew.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the virus infected 287 New Jersey residents and claimed three lives, Murphy said.
“This is how we’ll be able to stay strong throughout this emergency, and how we will emerge from it stronger and more prepared for the long-term,” the governor said at his afternoon coronavirus press conference Tuesday in Trenton.
Many businesses expect to take hits to their revenue as a result of the drop in patronage, and fear they will have to cut hours, lay-off and furlough workers, or shut down entirely. To that end, lawmakers are fast-tracking a series of economic relief measures, which seem to have the support of the governor, to help cushion the impact.
“We are also working to ensure continuity of operations for ongoing construction projects,” Murphy said. “We are working with our partners in the Legislature in hopes of standing up a state business assistance program within the coming weeks.”
Editor’s note: As previously indicated it would be, this story was updated at 5:04 p.m. EST on March 17, 2020 to provide further details to what was a developing story.