NEW JERSEY — As New Jersey reported record-high daily COVID-19 cases over the weekend, Gov. Phil Murphy set new capacity limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings.
The restrictions come as New Jersey recorded its highest daily case counts of coronavirus ever Saturday and Sunday.
Just the past four days represent 5% of all cases, marking a surge outpacing the first wave back in March and April.
“So let that sink in. Our highest case counts are no longer from when this virus began," Murphy said. "They have come now.”
Indoor gatherings have been reduced from 25 to 10 people while outdoor gatherings have been limited to 150, down from 500, the governor said Monday.
The restrictions for indoor gatherings go into effect Tuesday at 6 a.m. while outdoor restrictions go into effect Monday, Nov. 23.
Religious services and celebrations, political events, weddings, funerals or memorial services and performances may continue under the current rules limited to 25% of a room’s capacity or up to 150 people, he added.
“They are going in the wrong direction,” Gov. Murphy said of case metrics, adding that many of the transmission occurs in private settings.
“We just know folks are letting their guards down behind the private doors. We’ve got to plead with people you’ve got to keep your guard up — social distance and wear face coverings,” he said. “We are in the thick of the fight right now.”
As the holidays approach, Murphy urged everyone to celebrate with those in their immediate households.
The governor expressed hope that positive news about vaccines would allow for more normality next year, but reminded people that "this year is not normal.”
Murphy clarified indoor dining will remain at a 25% capacity; the state recently announced it would close indoor seating at 10 p.m. as well as bar seating.
Over the weekend, the state began enforcing the new 10 p.m. curfew at bars in Camden, Hudson and Essex counties. Police targeted over 100 bars and 15 were cited.
"On Friday evening, Little Falls Police Department responded to Chela's Restaurant and observed several patrons at the bar not social distancing," said State Police Col. Patrick Callahan.
But with Thanksgiving next week, most gatherings will shift to private homes.
Murphy said his top concern right now is that the holiday will lead to an explosion of cases and hospitalizations that New Jersey will have to battle through alone.
"In the spring when New York and New Jersey were getting crushed, most the country had a surplus of healthcare workers," said the governor. "And now that is not the case, because if you look at the maps today, everyone is on fire."