Murphy Cuts Transit Capacity to Half as Safety Precaution

Gov. Phil Murphy announced today that he will sign an executive order cutting ridership capacity on all NJ Transit and private carrier operations to 50%, including all trains, buses, light rail and paratransit vehicles. Additionally, the executive order requires NJ Transit and the other carriers to supply their workers with gloves and face coverings. All riders will also be required to wear face coverings when traveling on these services, unless they cannot for medical reasons. The executive order will go into effect Monday evening, April 13, at 8 p.m.

“Right now, for many of our essential workers, public transportation is how they get to work. … We need to protect them during that trip,” Murphy said.

As part of the same executive order, Murphy is expanding the face mask requirement to all customers entering restaurants and bars that remain in operation for take-out orders. The governor also stressed that restaurant and bar owners must give face coverings and gloves to all food service personnel.

COVID-19 Update

In the past 24 hours, another 3,599 residents tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 58,151. This includes 7,618 hospitalizations, with 1,746 individuals in critical care beds and 1,650 on ventilators, according to Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. Also in the last 24 hours, 251 people lost their lives to the virus, bringing the state total to 2,183. “For every single one of these people, we stand in solidarity and mourn their loss,” Murphy said.

Positive Developments

The governor said that the rate in which COVID-19 cases are doubling in the state is slowing down. “This is a very good sign that we are beginning to beat this virus back. We are slowing the rate by which new cases are doubling. We remain confident that the course we are on is the right one,” he said.

In a show of “brotherhood and sisterhood,” Murphy detailed the assistance states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, California, Illinois and Maryland are providing New Jersey. “As of yesterday, a total of 78 ambulances and EMS squads from states across the country, carrying 139 EMTs and 56 paramedics, came to assist our local teams and not a moment too soon. Last night, they were already on our streets in Newark, Jersey City, Paterson, East Orange, Irvington, and New Brunswick.”

Murphy also said the National Governors Association is asking the federal government, on behalf of all states, for $500 billion in direct state aid. This money could be used to back fill efforts such as “helping the unemployed and small businesses, and caring for those in our healthcare system,” Murphy said.

The governor took the opportunity to ask the federal government to temporarily lift the cap on SALT deductions. “Please, folks in Washington, if you are watching, can you lift the cap … I hope permanently, but at least for some period of time? This [move] was a crushing blow to our homeowners and property tax payers. We need that lifted, so please help us in that regard.”

The governor and Superintendent of the State Police Colonel Patrick Callahan did announce that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved New Jersey’s request to use emergency, non-congregate sheltering for individuals impacted by COVID-19 that do not have the means or ability to isolate themselves.

According to Murphy, “Providing New Jersey’s already strained hospital system with a non-congregate sheltering option will free up critical space and reduce the likelihood of further community spread, which in turn will save lives. This increased access to housing for vulnerable populations, healthcare workers, and first responders will allow New Jerseyans to isolate themselves without fear of spreading COVID-19 to family members and their surrounding communities.”

Noting that we are in middle of a religious holiday, Murphy said, “Yesterday was Good Friday, but the first Good Friday wasn’t very good. It was filled with pain, doubt and fear. However, from that day came faith and rebirth for those who celebrate Easter. … Anxiety, fear and sadness may endure for a night, but joy will come in the morning. We are going to get to that better morning, we will get there together.”

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