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Governor Murphy’s announcement
Governor Murphy’s announcement

New Jersey lockdown rules: What residents need to know about stay-at-home order

Gov. Phil Murphy has ordered New Jersey residents to stay home. 

New Jersey will go into near-lockdown mode starting Saturday night after Gov. Phil Murphy announced he is ordering its 9 million residents to stay at home except for necessary travel and mandating that all non-essential retail businesses in the state close until further notice to help battle the spread of the coronavirus.

“Only if we need you out there, only if you’re an essential service in which case we do need you — otherwise, stay at home,” Murphy said during a press briefing at Rutgers-Newark.

Here’s a look at what the executive order means:

SO I HAVE TO STAY IN MY HOME?

As much as possible. But there are some exceptions.

Last week, Murphy ”strongly“ suggested that people refrain from non-essential travel between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. Now, he said, that’s a 24-hour order to keep off the roads.

A few people are excepted: health-care workers, law enforcement, emergency responders, members of the media, some federal officials, people who assist low-income residents (such as food bank workers), and those who need to get to work at businesses allowed to remain open.

Otherwise, people can leave the house only for essential needs (such groceries, food, or medicine), to visit family and close friends, or to seek medical attention. You can also go outside for walks or exercise.

When in public, people must practice social distancing by staying at least six feet apart from others, except “immediate family members, caretakers, household members, or romantic partners,” the order says.

Bottom line: The governor is ordering you to stay home unless it’s really necessary.

“We need you to just stay home,” Murphy said during a news briefing Saturday at Rutgers-Newark. “We have to change our behaviors.”

And the governor specifically urged people not to go to the Jersey Shore if they have part-time residences there.

WHAT’S CLOSED?

Murphy had already indefinitely shuttered a number of businesses amid the outbreak, including indoor malls, movie theaters, casinos, gyms, amusement parks, barber shops, salons, libraries and more. He also limited restaurants to takeout and delivery.

Now it extends to the vast majority of retail businesses in the state.

WHAT CAN STAY OPEN?

Numerous retail businesses are allowed to remain open: grocery stores, food banks, pharmacies, medical marijuana dispensaries, gas stations, auto mechanics and repair services, convenience stores, banks, hardware and home improvement stores, laundromats, dry cleaners, printing and office supply shops, pet stores, stores that sell supplies for young children, and mail and delivering shops.

Restaurants, bars, and liquor stores can also remain open, as long as they stick to takeout or delivery.

Manufacturing, industrial, logistics, ports, heavy construction, shipping, food production, food delivery, and other commercial operations may continue operating. But they must keep staff at a minimal level on site to make sure “essential operations can continue,” according to the order.

Medical facilities — including veterinarians and physical therapy — can continue to operate.

Child day care centers will also remain open. Murphy has said many emergency and essential workers need a place to watch their children.

The governor’s office also said landscaping businesses and hotels are also allowed to stay open, too.

Other businesses should allow people to work from home, if possible, the governor said.

Plus, the office said, garbage and recycling collection will continue. So will public transportation, though on modified schedules.

WHAT ABOUT GATHERINGS?

Murphy has barred any social gatherings — parties, funerals, concerts, etc.

In recent days, he limited them to 250 people and then reduced it to 50 people. Now all are banned.

“This decision is not an easy one, and it pains me that important life moments will not be celebrated the way we are accustomed to,” Murphy said. ”Our singular goal is to make sure we get through this emergency so you can safely gather with family and friends later and enjoy many more wedding and birthdays to come.”

WHO IS CONSIDERED AN ESSENTIAL WORKER ALLOWED TO TRAVEL?

Health-care and medical-services workers, members of the media, law enforcement agencies, emergency responders, certain federal government workers, and those who work at businesses that are allowed to remain open.

WHEN DOES THIS GO INTO EFFECT?

9 p.m. Saturday.

HOW LONG WILL IT LAST?

That’s unclear. Murphy said he expects the crisis will be “measured in weeks to months. … This is not next week.”

WHAT IF I DON’T COMPLY?

Murphy didn’t provide specifics on what the penalties would be, but he said: “If folks are monkeying around, we will take action.”

Officials have said any people or businesses that don’t comply will be prosecuted for a disorderly person’s offense at the local level.

WHY TAKE THIS ACTION?

Officials say the more people keep their distance from each other — otherwise known as “social distancing” — it will help slow the spread of the virus, which causes the illness COVID-19.

“Social distancing is the key to stopping this,” state Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said. “There’s nothing more sophisticated about it. We don’t have a vaccine.”

An NJ Advance Media analysis of data from a Rutgers University study shows in a worst-case scenario, with the minimal amount of social distancing, 1 in 7 people could contract the virus.

HOW MUCH HAS THE VIRUS ALREADY SPREAD?

The coronavirus is a pandemic that has infected and killed thousands across the globe. In New Jersey, officials have confirmed at least 1,327 known cases, with 16 confirmed deaths.

Officials say they expect that number to increase significantly in the coming days as testing expands and there is more evidence of “community spread.”

The state has not released how many negative tests have come back or how many people have recovered from the virus.

WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFORMATION?

Read Murphy’s full 13-page order here.

Plus, the state has a new website devoted to its response to the pandemic: covid19.nj.gov/