Murphy Expands Restrictions on Construction Projects and Essential Retail

Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order today that will force all non-essential construction projects to cease operations effective 8:00 pm this Friday.

Exceptions include: hospital and school projects, transportation and utility sector projects, affordable housing projects, other individual housing sites that can adhere to strict limits on the number of workers at any given time, and emergency repairs needed to secure a construction site.  

The order also tightens restrictions on essential retail locations throughout the state by forcing all essential retail stores to limit the number of customers in their stores to 50% of their approved capacity at all times.

The order further says that all employees and customers must wear face coverings, and stores must provide special shopping hours for high-risk individuals and erect physical barriers between customers and cashiers where practicable.

“This is one set of rules for everyone in New Jersey,” Murphy said at today’s daily COVID-19 briefing, adding that individual municipalities or counties will not be able to implement their own rules or restrictions when it comes to essential retail businesses.

Murphy emphasized that the state is not running out of food or other items, and said that the new restrictions are intended to protect customers and essential workers.

Election Date Moved

The governor also signed two other executive orders, the first of which moves the state’s primary election from Tuesday, June 2 to Tuesday, July 7.

This includes primaries for president, the US Senate, the US House of Representatives, the 25th district of the New Jersey Legislature, and county and municipal elections, as well as county committee elections. 

“We want to preserve the possibility that improvements in the public health situation would allow for in-person voting. [This delay] increases the likelihood of that,” Murphy said.

The order also states that all deadlines for meeting statutory requirements for a primary election, which are currently scheduled to occur after April 11, will be calculated using the July 7 primary election date. This would not affect any deadlines that have already passed, such as the filing deadline for candidate petitions for the primary election, or will pass prior to April 11. The only exception is the deadline for change of party affiliation declaration forms to be filed, which is currently scheduled for April 8 and will move to May 13.

The third order that was signed increases the weight limits on interstate highways and toll roads from 40 tons to 46 tons for trucks carrying COVID-19 supplies.

Edison Field Hospital

The field hospital at the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center in Edison will likely open on Saturday if “all goes well” according to State Police Commander Marc Pellegrino.

Gov. Murphy, Sen. Cory Booker, State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli, State Police Superintendent Patrick Callahan, and numerous officials from the State Police and National Guard toured the facility this morning.

The Edison facility will be for low-acuity patients and house 500 beds as well as 15 nurse stations, a pharmacy, and portable showers and bathrooms. 

Persichilli said that the field hospitals are vital to support local hospitals, which are also doing their best at increasing their own capacity.

For example, over the past three weeks, Hunterdon Medical Center has increased its bed capacity by 93% from 178 to 366 beds. Additionally, Hackensack Meridian Health and its hospitals have more than tripled their negative pressure beds from 278 to 869. At Hackensack University Medical Center, critical care capacity has gone from 48 to 191 beds.

Update on New Cases and Deaths

New Jersey has now surpassed 1,500 total deaths (1,504) from COVID-19 after reporting 275 new deaths overnight. Additionally, the total number of positive cases now stands at 47,437 with 3,088 new cases reported overnight as well.

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