Murphy: Bigger backyard cookouts OK; limit raised on charter fishing

Gov. Phil Murphy at a press briefing.

TRENTON — The limit on outdoor gatherings is lifted from 10 to 25 people, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Friday. 

“So if you were looking forward to gathering with your neighbors for a Memorial Day cookout, you may do so, so long as social distancing and personal responsibility remain the order of the day,” said the governor, who has been slowly loosening his stay-at-home order as the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and fatalities decreases in New Jersey.

The capacity also is raised to 25 for outdoor recreational businesses such as charter fishing boats, driving ranges and batting cages, he said, and campgrounds also may open immediately.

But in both outdoor gatherings and at campgrounds, social distancing must be adhered to, the governor warned. Organized gatherings, for example, must include clear demarcations for attendees and he urged everyone to wear face coverings. 

Gov. Murphy said Friday’s executive order on outdoor gatherings does not include outdoor seating at restaurants or high school graduation ceremonies, but he expects to set forth rules for those next week. 

“We continue to say the hope for those who want to have some sort of an outdoor, properly socially distant graduation ceremony, your hope is well placed, and I hope we can have some guidance for you early midweek. We want to get this right obviously, because this would be a big gathering and it has to be done right … the super-spreader notion,” he said. 

The governor said the limit on indoor gatherings remains at 10 people. 

State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli urged people to continue to avoid large gatherings as much as possible, to keep gatherings to immediate family members and to wear face masks.

She referenced a report from the Centers for Disease Control about a church service in another state last March in which two of the 92 worshipers had COVID-19. From just those two persons, 61 people became infected with the coronavirus, and four died, she said.

The governor also announced that the state’s request for an extension until June 30 of the FEMA coronavirus testing sites at the PNC Arts Center in Holmdel and at Bergen Community College in Paramus has been accepted. The capacity at both testing sites will be raised, he said.

On Friday, state health officials reported that the state has had 152,719 total coronavirus cases, with 1,394 new cases reported overnight.

The total death toll in New Jersey stands at 10,985, with 146 new deaths reported overnight.

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