What to Know
- New Jersey is on track to enter Stage 2 of its three-stage reopening process on Monday, June 15, opening outdoor dining at the same time as in-store retail sales, Gov. Phil Murphy said
- New York is also moving forward -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the Western New York and Capital regions are expected to enter Phase II within days, while NYC remains on track to reopen June 8
- Cuomo also expressed concern the protests over George Floyd's death could exacerbate COVID in NYC just days before its reopening, though made it clear he stood with protesters in opposing the "horrifying" video
New Jersey is on track to enter Stage 2 of its coronavirus recovery plan in two weeks, reopening restricted outdoor dining and in-store retail with hair salons and more to open later in June, Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday.
Outdoor dining, which Connecticut reopened more than a week ago, will be allowed in New Jersey as of June 15, the same day Murphy has said child care centers can reopen. In-person retail sales can also resume at that point, though each store has to maintain a strict 50 percent capacity in order to stay open.
Hair salons and barbershops are slated to reopen the following Monday, on June 22, Murphy said. Gyms and health clubs will likely reopen soon thereafter, though the governor said health officials were continuing to work on safety protocol guidance for those businesses. He had no specific date for fitness centers.
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The June 15 move to Stage 2 will come exactly four weeks after Murphy unveiled a three-stage roadmap to reopening and recovery. New Jersey, which until recently led the nation on indicators like new COVID deaths and cases per 100,000 residents, has been in Stage 1, which allows curbside retail pickup and other socially distant activities like the ones permitted by New York's Phase I.
At the same time, New Jersey has made tremendous strides. On Monday, Murphy announced the Garden State was No. 1 in daily testing per capita.
"As we open, we know there is a greater chance for transmission of COVID19," the governor said. "There is no cure. There is no vaccine. There is no proven therapeutic. The only cure is responsibility. Safety will continue to be our number one priority."
Proven mitigation measures like social distancing and facial coverings will be part and parcel of the phased-in restart, Murphy said Monday. Businesses eligible to reopen in Stage 2 must adhere to Department of Health guidance.
"Just because the calendar says June 15 doesn’t mean that everyone should just go back to what they were doing pre-COVID," Murphy said. "Let’s use common sense for the common good. Only a successful Stage 2 can get us to Stage 3."
Stage 3 in New Jersey allows expanded dining, critical in-office work, limited entertainment, bars with limited capacity and expanded personal care services, among other activities, with significant safeguards against viral resurgence.
New Jersey has been America's second most-impacted state in the pandemic next to New York. It has reported nearly 11,700 virus deaths to date.
Tracking Coronavirus in Tri-State
NYC on Track for June 8 Reopening, 2 More Regions Poised to Move to Phase 2
With coronavirus deaths continuing to decline in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo expressed hope that the state is approaching a level where fatalities are perhaps not eliminated but are very few.
There were 54 COVID-19 deaths in New York on Sunday -- the lowest number reported so far, Cuomo said during his Monday coronavirus briefing.
Cuomo said the level of positivity is down, citing that the state conducted about 50,000 coronavirus tests Sunday, with less than 1,000 coming back as positive.
"That is the lowest number we have had since this began and when we began we were only doing 3,000 or 4,000 tests," Cuomo said. "The progress is just phenomenal."
The Western New York and Capital regions are expected to move to Phase II in the coming days, while New York City, the epicenter of the national crisis, remains on track to begin its reopening process on June 8.
Region by Region Status
Source: New York State; Report as of May 18
Officials say nearly 24,000 people in New York have been killed by the virus, but acknowledge the true count is likely higher. The state's figure doesn't include another 5,800 probable deaths that New York City officials attribute to the virus in the five boroughs. A recent CDC report finds thousands more "excess" deaths in the city between March and April that may be COVID-connected as well.
Cuomo devoted most of his daily coronavirus briefing Sunday to the ongoing protests against police brutality which, while mostly peaceful, have spurred violent outbursts that left police cars burned, businesses vandalized and hundreds of people arrested from New York City to Buffalo.
He speculated that the unrest might have been enhanced, in part, by pent-up frustration and agitation over coronavirus lockdowns. While Cuomo says he's on the side of protesters enraged over George Floyd's death, he warned that mass protests could exacerbate infections just as New York City preps to reopen.
"New York City reopens next week. It took us 93 days to get here. We have to take a minute and ask ourselves, 'What are we doing here?' What are we trying to accomplish?" the governor said Monday. "We should be outraged. Protests, yes. Be frustrated, yes. Is there a larger problem? Of course. It's not just Mr. Floyd."
Cuomo touched upon the protests once more on Monday, saying he shares the outrage of injustice and stands with those in protests, adding that systemic racism has been an ongoing problem for hundreds of years.
However, Cuomo also said mass protests of the past few days could exacerbate the spread of COVID-19 and that the state won't know for weeks how many "super spreaders" of the virus were in the crowd.
Monday also marked the first day that dentists statewide can reopen.
The governor said a day earlier that dentists’ offices would be subject to state guidance on best practices for safety and social distancing. The move comes as the Cuomo administration slowly eases restrictions on economic activity in the state, region by region and industry by industry.