Governor Phil Murphy expected to announce on Monday that New Jersey’s outdoor restaurants, hair salons and non-essential retail stores will soon be allowed to reopen, with restrictions, as the state enters “Phase 2” of its coronavirus recovery plan after more than two months of foreclosure to fight the epidemic, NJ Advance Media has learned.
Outdoor dining will be allowed from June 15 and non-essential retailing will soon be able to allow indoor customers with 50% capacity limits, according to three sources familiar with Murphy’s plans but who do not were not allowed to speak about it publicly.
It is unclear what restrictions will be in place in salons, hair salons and other “personal care” businesses.
The announcement is expected at Murphy’s briefing on the coronavirus epidemic at 2:30 p.m. in Trenton on Monday. Administration officials did not return messages asking for comments on Monday morning.
The move to Stage 2 would occur just two weeks after Murphy unveiled his multi-stage reopening plan for New Jersey, which has the second highest number of deaths and cases of COVID-19 among the United States. The state is currently in Stage 1, which limits non-essential restaurants and retail stores to curbside pickup and delivery.
But Murphy has hinted in recent days that he will reveal more details on stage two on Monday. The phase also includes permission to reopen places such as libraries and museums, although it is unclear whether this will be part of Monday’s announcement.
Additionally, Stage 2 includes “indoor dining at a significantly reduced capacity”, although it is not clear when Murphy could lift this restriction. During Stage 1, Murphy staggered the announcements over two weeks.
“We have already taken a lot of measures, but we will announce many more tomorrow, which will be in effect for the next two weeks,” the governor said Sunday morning in a radio interview.
The governor also said during the interview that gambling in Atlantic City casinos could return as early as July 4.
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New Jersey – a densely populated state of 9 million people – on Sunday afternoon reported 11,698 known deaths attributed to the coronavirus, with at least 160,445 cases, since the epidemic began here on March 4. Officials announced 66 new deaths and 868 new positive tests on Sunday.
Murphy has gradually lifted the restrictions as the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, new deaths and new cases have declined in recent weeks. It allowed the reopening of parks, beaches, walks and lakes. He increased the limit for outdoor gatherings to 25. (Indoor gatherings remain capped at 10.)
And other stages are underway. Murphy announced on Friday that New Jersey daycare centers could reopen on June 15, that contactless outdoor organized sports could resume on June 22, and that youth day camps would operate from July 6, all with restrictions. The governor also said that live horse racing can return, without fans, this weekend. And he said the state hopes to allow larger indoor gatherings, including those in churches and other places of worship, by the weekend of June 12.
As the state’s economy cratered during the pandemic, many lawmakers, businesses and residents have called on Murphy to speed up the reopening of the state. A gymnasium in southern Jersey has garnered national attention for defying Murphy’s orders – and for being shut down repeatedly by authorities.
The governor has also been criticized for not providing more details on the data he uses to make his decisions. Murphy said the goal was to try to save as many lives as possible.
More than 1.1 million New Jersey residents have applied for unemployment since aggressive social distancing began in mid-March, driving the state’s unemployment rate to 15.3%, although the number of requests has decreased in recent weeks. Many say they have been waiting weeks for payment and are struggling with the state’s busy online and telephone systems.
Meanwhile, Murphy’s administration has announced plans to cut state spending by $ 1.3 billion due to falling tax revenues. The governor warned against nearly 200,000 public service layoffs if the federal government did not provide more direct assistance to states.
NJ Globe was the first to report on Monday morning that Murphy allowed outdoor dining.
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Brent Johnson can be reached at [email protected].