New Jersey will increase outdoor gathering limits and increase capacity events at entertainment venues despite new coronavirus cases continuing to climb in the Garden State.
Beginning April 2, outdoor gathering limits will increase to 200 people, entertainment venues size eligibility will decline, and banquet halls will be able to expand past weddings.
“With the warmer weather approaching, we are taking the step to increase outdoor gathering limits to encourage everyone to engage in social activities outside whenever possible,” said Gov. Phil Murphy at a press briefing March 29. “By continuing to follow public health guidance and data, I am hopeful that we will be able to responsibly and incrementally expand capacities in the coming months.”
The new guidance on outdoor gatherings raises the limit to 200 people from 50. Murphy noted with college and youth sporting events beginning to ramp up, the increase “supersedes the so-called mom and dad rule that we had in place over the past couple of months. This is going to allow folks to be able to get more fans assuming they do it responsibly, for instance, at high school baseball games.”
The governor noted outdoor gatherings that are religious services or ceremonies, political events, weddings, funerals, or memorial services will continue to not have any limit.
While seeming counter intuitive, the state is expanding the sports and entertainment venues by lowering seating capacity eligible to 2,500 from 5,000. Capacity limits at these venues will increase to 20% indoors and 30% outdoors, doubling their current limitations. The capacity limits will continue to exclude participants, such as athletes and performers, and staff, such as coaches and ushers.
“We are confident in increasing capacity in our large venues as we have seen the strict enforcement of our COVID-19 health and safety protocols by spectators since we reopened these venues last month,” stated Murphy.
The governor used the Prudential Center in Newark as an example of a venue that has done “an exceptional job” since it reopened and “going to 20% does not anywhere come close to having people…be within six feet of each other.”
Facilities hoisting events must ensure that all attendees at the event remain six feet apart from other attendees, except those individuals who purchase or reserve tickets together may be seated together. Attendees are required to wear masks within the facility, except when eating or drinking.
Additionally, the executive order clarifies the banquet halls and similar venues can host indoor celebrations and other private events at 35% of the room’s capacity or up to 150 persons.
“This will align all catered events with the capacity limitations for indoor wedding receptions,” said Murphy. “This is any indoor catered event, whether it’s a bar mitzvah, a confirmation, a wedding, whatever it might be.”
Remaining unchanged are indoor gathering limits at 25 people as well as those for indoor religious services or ceremonies, political events, weddings, funerals, memorial services and performances.
The governor reiterated as cases are starting to uptick, the state will continue to slowly increase easing restriction for the foreseeable future.
“We predicted this and expected it,” said Murphy. “We want to open; there’s no question about that. We want to make sure it’s a one-way street and that we don’t go back. With the variants in our state and the level of transmission right now, which is about as high as it is anywhere in the country, we are in the better to be safe than sorry category.”
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 4,112,087 as of March 30. Of those who have received the vaccine, 2,677,846 residents have received their first dose with 1,517,333 receiving their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose; 50% have been administered the Pfizer vaccine, 48% the Moderna vaccine and 2% the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Demographically, 5% of those vaccinated are women and 43% men. As for ethnicity, 59% are White, 11% other, 10% unknown, 8% Asian, 7% Hispanic and 5% Black. In regards to age of those having received the vaccine, 39% are 65 years old or olders, 28% are between the ages of 50-64, 24% are between the ages of 40-49, and 8% are between the ages of 18-29.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 468,516 doses, Essex 312,913 doses, Morris 304,808 doses, Hudson 210,780 doses, Passaic 183,301 doses, Sussex 65,408 doses, and Warren 41,575 doses.
As of March 30, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 796,700 with 4,378 total new PCR cases reported. There were 1,071 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 108,444. The total number of individual cases for the state is 905,144. Gov. Murphy previously noted there is some unknown overlap due to health officials urging those taking a rapid test to get a PCR test.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 61 new deaths, bringing that total to 21,951. The state listed probable deaths at 2,535, bringing the overall total to 24,486. State officials noted 22 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on March 30, Bergen had a total of 467 new confirmed cases and 140 probable cases, Essex 499 new cases and 69 probable cases, Hudson 337 new cases and 86 probable cases, Morris 275 new cases and 63 probable cases, Passaic 364 new cases and 57 probable cases, Sussex 73 new cases and 28 probable cases, and Warren 57 cases and 12 new probable cases.
There are a total of 575 coronavirus variants being reported in the Garden State. State officials documented 525 cases of the U.K. variant, eight cases of the California variants, eight cases of the Brazilian P1 variant, and one case of the South African variant. Additionally, there are 80 cases of the New York variant, considered “of interest” by the CDC.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,499, followed by Bergen at 2,442, Hudson with 1,915, Passaic at 1,594, Morris at 931, Sussex at 217 and Warren County at 202.
In regards to probable deaths reported March 24, Bergen has 288, Essex has 284, Morris has 240, Hudson has 199, Passaic has 191, Sussex has 66 and Warren has 25.
As for the rate of transmission, it decreased to 1.09 from 1.10 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested as of March 25, was 9.4%; by region, the rate was 9.9% in the North, 9.2% in the Central region and 9.5% in the South.
Officials reported 2,329 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 1,185 in the North, 742 in the Central and 402 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 452 are in intensive care units and 239 on ventilators. A total of 185 patients were discharged, while 259 were admitted.
Officials have continually cited transmission rate, hospilizations, intensive care units, ventilators 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.
Bergen Tops County Count
Bergen has the most confirmed cumulative cases in the state with 79,714, followed by Essex at 76,825, Middlesex at 76,756, Hudson at 71,842, Monmouth at 60,659, Ocean at 59,491, Passaic at 58,020, Union at 54,584, Camden at 43,118, Morris at 37,784, Burlington at 34,272, Mercer at 28,792, Gloucester at 23,318, Atlantic at 22,213, Somerset at 21,575, Cumberland at 13,167, Sussex at 9,716, Warren at 7,566, Hunterdon at 7,542, Salem at 4,735, and Cape May at 4,117.
In regards to probable cases, Bergen had the most at 11,204, followed by Union at 9,342, Ocean at 8,603, Essex at 7,853, Hudson at 7,589, Monmouth at 7,042, Morris at 6,897, Middlesex at 6,300, Passaic at 6,096, Atlantic at 5,924, Camden at 5,479, Burlington at 5,419, Somerset at 5,035, Cape May at 4,107, Gloucester at 3,483, Cumberland at 2,179, Mercer at 1,991, Sussex at 1,708, Warren at 822, Hunterdon at 728 and Salem 487.
Another 894 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.
In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 205 outbreaks involving 947 cases have been reported, with 17 new outbreaks accounting for 57 cases in the weekly update on March 24.
For North Jersey, Bergen County has 45 confirmed outbreaks with 181 cases, Passaic County has 12 confirmed outbreaks with 42 cases, Warren has 11 confirmed outbreaks with 28 cases, Sussex has eight confirmed outbreaks with 24 cases, Morris County has five confirmed outbreaks with 34 cases, Hudson County has four confirmed outbreaks with 21 cases, and Essex County with one confirmed outbreak with 92 cases.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 232 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 8,338 of the cases, broken down between 3,792 residents and 4,546 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,321 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 32,493 residents and 21,506 staff, for a total of 53,999 cases.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,986 on March 30. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,849 residents deaths and 143 staff deaths.