New COVID Restrictions in New Jersey: Bar Areas Closed, Indoor Dining Ends at 10, No Tournaments

As previewed last week, Gov. Phil Murphy announced new restrictions on dining and youth sports in New Jersey.

No seating will be allowed in bar areas, closing times for indoor dining will now be at 10 p.m. and all indoor interstate organized sports up to the high school level are not allowed under new restrictions announced by state officials. 

“We’re taking steps today to mitigate the current increasing rate of spread,” said Murphy at a press briefing Nov. 9. “The last thing I want to do is shut our economy back down. Thankfully, we’re not at that point.”

Effective Nov. 12, no indoor dining between 10:00 PM–5:00 AM is allowed at New Jersey restaurants, bars, clubs, and lounges. All barside seating will be prohibited as well. Outdoor dining, takeout, and delivery services may continue past 10:00 PM.

Surgical Steps

Murphy said restaurants may place tables closer than 6 feet only if separated by barriers and individual fully-enclosed dining bubbles may be set-up for outside use. The new restrictions on food and bar service applies to casinos, although gaming may continue. 

“We are taking surgical steps. We are acting with more precision-based actions,” Murphy said.

In terms of indoor youth sports, all interstate games and tournaments—up to and including high school—are prohibited as of Nov. 12 as well. 

New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said outbreaks associated with hockey tournaments held out-of-state were recognized due to contact tracing by state health officials.

Examples Given

“It is simply not safe for teams to be crossing state lines at this time to participate in indoor competitions,” said Murphy. 

States officials defended their decisions critics say are arbitrary, giving specific cases making the new restrictions necessary. In regards to the 10 p.m. closing time, Murphy relayed that the spike in Newark and other municipalities was due to residents letting down their guards as the night wore on.

State officials said areas around bars were a cause of concern as masks tend to be off longer to drink as well as close interaction between customers and bartenders, customer to customer and between help behind the bar in a small, confined space. 

“We have seen outbreaks associated with bartenders,” said NJDOH’s Communicable Disease Service Medical Director Ed Lifshitz. “It is a very difficult environment to maintain the separation and space that you would like.”

Pandemic Fatigue

Murphy said New Jersey residents must shake off pandemic fatigue—”including myself”— and get back into the mindset that saw residents crush the curve earlier this year.

“We remain in the midst of a global pandemic. Our country is recording more than 100,000 cases per day,” said the first-term Democrat governor. “We have to snap back into reality—this virus hasn’t gone away, and it is posing its greatest threat to us in months.”

New Jerseyans must redouble their efforts and recommit to the practices such as social distancing, washing hands and wearing masks to flatten the curve again, said Murphy.

Daily Data

As of Nov. 9, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 246,653 with 2,075 total new cases reported and 11 new deaths, bringing that total to 14,640. The state listed probable deaths at 1,800, bringing the overall total to 16,440.

For North Jersey counties, Essex had a total of 171 new cases, Bergen 134 new cases, Passaic 208 new cases, Hudson 124 new cases, Morris 105 new cases, Sussex 12 new cases and Warren 34 new cases.

State officials noted 10 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.  

Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 1,924, followed by Bergen at 1,826, Hudson with 1,380, Passaic at 1,129, Morris at 697, Sussex at 162 and Warren with 158.

In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 245, Essex has 230, Hudson has 158, Morris at 145, Passaic at 141, Sussex has 36 and Warren has 13.

State Testing 

The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Nov. 1 was 7.5%. By region, the North has a rate of 8.5%, Central at 6.0 and the South at 8.0%. The state is no longer using serology tests as health officials explained those results show a past presence of the disease as well as a current one. 

As for the rate of transmission, it increased to 1.24 from 1.23 the day before. Officials have continually cited transmission rate and positivity rate as health data they rely on to track how the coronavirus is being contained in New Jersey, guiding them in determining when restrictions have to be tightened or lifted.

Officials reported 1,537 patients are hospitalized, with 1,313 cases confirmed and 224 under investigation. By region, there were 824 in the North, 372 in the Central and 341 in the South.

Of those hospitalized, 309 are in intensive care units and 94 on ventilators, while 109 patients were discharged.

Essex Tops County Count

Essex has the most cumulative cases in the state with 27,402, followed by Bergen at 27,060, Hudson at 25,105, Middlesex at 24,065, Passaic at 22,757, Union at 22,239, Ocean at 17,634, Monmouth at 15,368, Camden at 13,219, Mercer at 10,045, Morris at 10,253, Burlington at 9,504, Somerset at 7,009, Gloucester at 6,250, Atlantic at 5,915, Cumberland at 4,233, Sussex at 1,899, Warren at 1,829, Hunterdon at 1,793, Salem at 1,244 and Cape May at 1,234.

Another 596 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.

In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 26 outbreaks involving 146 cases have been reported in 15 of the 21 counties in the Garden State, up from 28 outbreaks involving 122 cases a week previous. For North Jersey, Bergen County has five confirmed outbreaks with 15 cases, Warren County has two confirmed outbreaks with four cases, Sussex County has two confirmed outbreaks with five cases, Passaic County has one confirmed outbreak with nine cases, and Hudson County has one confirmed outbreak with four cases. 

Long-term Care Facilities

Health officials noted 200 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 4,614 of the cases, broken down between 2,521 residents and 2,093 staff. 

Cumulatively, 857 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 25,844 residents and 14,393 staff, for a total of 40,237 cases. 

The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,240 on Nov. 9. The facilities are reporting to the state 6,866 residents deaths and 122 staff deaths.

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