By Maria Caspani
(Reuters) – New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy on Monday announced he was re-tightening restrictions on indoor gatherings after a recent surge in coronavirus cases in the state that officials have, in part, linked to house parties and indoor events.
Murphy said such events will now be limited to 25% of a room’s capacity with a maximum of 25 people, down from the previous limit of 100.
“The actions of a few knuckleheads leaves us no other course,” Murphy said at a news briefing. “We have to go back and tighten these restrictions once again until we begin to see the numbers of cases decrease.”
The restrictions will not apply to weddings, funerals and memorial services, and religious and political activities protected under the First Amendment, Murphy said.
The rate of COVID-19 transmission has climbed to 1.48 in New Jersey, the governor said, compared with 0.87 about a month ago, while cases have also been on the rise.
“Let me reiterate, we remain in a public health emergency,” Murphy said. “Over the past week we saw numbers of cases that we had not seen in eight weeks, our rate of transmission is now more than double where it was a few weeks ago. Everyone needs to get it together folks.”
Murphy also sought to clarify previously provided guidance on schools reopening and announced that all students will be required to wear face coverings at all times when inside a school building, excepts for health reasons.
(Reporting by Maria Caspani, Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Marguerita Choy)