North Jersey News Roundup for Nov. 17, 2020

In an exclusive interview with, Rep. Mikie Sherrill talks about her priorities in her return to Washington and lessons Dems need to learn from the election. Among the subject broaches are the need for COVID-19 aid, telehealth, hopes about improving the Affordable Care Act, her efforts—and misadventures—in homeschooling and if she would serve in a Biden Administration if asked.

Gov. Phil Murphy announced new gathering restrictions aimed at reducing the coronavirus second wave as the numbers of cases and hospitalization continue to grow at a rapid pace. Starting Oct. 17, the state will restrict indoor gathering at a maximum of 10 people. For outdoor gatherings, the capacity limit is being reset at 150 as of Oct. 23. Exemptions announced for indoor gatherings—those that may continue at  25% of a room’s capacity, up to 150 people— include religious services/celebrations and political events, weddings, funerals and memorial services and theatrical performances.

New Jersey can expect the “first batch” of a coronavirus vaccine “maybe by the end of the year” for vulnerable communities and front-line healthcare workers, said Gov. Phil Murphy. The governor said the timing of widespread distribution will depend on the availability of the vaccines and the distribution chain, but remains optimistic in the possibility of broad distribution of a vaccine in April or May.

Governors, mayors and other officials across the U.S. are ordering restrictions as the coronavirus crisis mounts, surpassing 11 million total cases and threatening to overwhelm hospitals. California, Washington state, Michigan and Oregon have shut indoor dining, while a stay-at-home advisory went into effect in Chicago. Philadelphia introduced a sweeping new set of coronavirus rules, including a ban on most indoor private gatherings. The New York Times

New Jersey officials stepped up patrols to make sure restaurants and bars are following restrictions to slow the spread of the pandemic. The state’s Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control inspected 104 businesses in three counties over the weekend, issuing 15 citations for “various executive order violations.” Additional inspections are expected to occur.

As part of the city’s crack down on apartment and house parties, Hoboken’s police department issued summonses for six “unruly” indoor gatherings over the weekend, with tickets carrying fines of up to $1,000. Authorities responded to six different buildings throughout the city following noise complaints and determined the gatherings violated the city’s disorderly house ordinance. The Jersey Journal

Two more of New Jersey’s Motor Vehicle Commission offices are closed after employees tested positive for COVID-19, with a total of six now currently closed. Employees at both the Flemington and Rahway offices tested positive. Rahway will reopen Nov. 24, and Flemington on Nov. 30. The other locations closed include Eatontown, Trenton, Wallington and Bayonne, with South Plainfield and Wayne sites are appointment-only. News12 New Jersey 

North Haledon closed its municipal office until further notice after two employees who work there tested positive for COVID-19. The building will be cleaned before any employees are allowed to go back and the nine employees who work in the building must test negative for the disease before their return. The Record

The Mount Olive school district is switching to all-remote learning for seven weeks starting next Nov. 23. School officials said during the past three weeks, the district has recorded a rise in cases necessitating the quarantining of “50 staff members, scores of students and three athletic teams. The quarantining of staff and students, as well as the constant daily contract tracing, are an immense burden on the district’s operations.” 

River Dell’s middle school and high school will switch from hybrid learning to fully remote instruction effective Nov. 17. The decision comes after the district confirmed two new student COVID cases at the high school as well as a staff exposure as well as two positive student cases at the middle school and a staff member who tested positive. In-person instruction will resume on Dec. 3 and there will be no athletics or extracurricular activities through Dec. 1. The Record

Hopatcong Borough Schools halted in-person learning as officials grapple with a COVID-19 outbreak that has affected students and employees. The district moved all four schools to remote learning on Nov. 16 and will continue to do so indefinitely. New Jersey Herald

The Hoboken Public School District will shift to all remote learning for the week following Thanksgiving. The city’s schools, which have been operating on a hybrid learning model, will return to on-site learning Dec. 7. Currently, Hoboken Middle School’s entire eighth grade is on remote learning as is one section of the sixth grade for this week and the week after due to a positive COVID-19 case. Hudson Reporter

Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration and Senate leaders reportedly reached an agreement on the structure of an additional excise tax for recreational cannabis cultivators. The fee would rise as the price of recreational cannabis falls. If the average retail price of cannabis is above $350 an ounce, the excise fee set by the Cannabis Regulatory Commission can climb to as high as $10 per ounce on cultivators. If it’s between $250- $350, that fee can would be $30 per ounce, and up to $60 an ounce if it falls below $199. PoliticoNJ

The race in New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District narrowed to a 4,716-vote lead for Democratic incumbent Tom Malinowski after Republican Thomas Kean, Jr. gained 130 votes in Union County on Nov. 16. Malinowski is now ahead, 212,143 to 207,427, 50.6% to 49.4%, after the 2,278 new Union County votes were added to the count. New Jersey Globe

The state Legislature split on a bill that would stop many arrests related to marijuana offenses. The state Assembly canceled a vote on the bill after the State Senate added an amendment that would make possessing up to one ounce of psilocybin, or “magic,” mushrooms only a disorderly persons offense.

New Jersey’s manufacturing sector received a boost with the passing of legislation by both the Senate and Assembly to create a permanent funding source for the New Jersey Extension Program, Inc. (NJMEP). This funding is particularly timely, due to the many challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. “The manufacturing industry in New Jersey is strong,” said Assemblyman Christopher DePhillips (R-40), one of the sponsors of the bill. “They have ensured jobs remained in the state while responding to the coronavirus pandemic by retooling operations.” Funding will be focused on job growth and training opportunities, as many see the manufacturing industry continuing to play a key role in economic recovery.

A decision on a Gateway Tunnel environmental permit that federal officials promised would be delivered almost three years ago is going to be fast tracked by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). “(President-elect Joe) Biden said repeatedly he wants to fund Gateway. As soon as he becomes president and his appointees take office, I’m urging them to sign the (Environmental Impact Statement) and Gateway can move forward,” said Sen. Schumer.

And finally…M Station recently broke ground, Morristown’s biggest development project in decades. The Daily Record

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