Gov. Phil Murphy yesterday lowered New Jersey’s limits on in-person indoor gatherings to 25 people or 25% of the space’s capacity, whichever is less. They had been at 100 people since June.
Murphy said that while hospitalizations and ventilator usage continues to fall, New Jersey’s rate of transmission (RT) is rising. The RT, which reflects how many people could be infected by a one person with COVID-19, is 1.48. That is about twice as high as the RT was in early June.
According to the executive order, weddings, funerals and memorials, religious services and political activities are exempt from the latest change. Indoor house parties, which have been linked to several spikes in COVID-19, will be limited to 25 people and restaurants can have indoor dining at the new limits if two of their four walls can open entirely, something that no Verona restaurant can manage. Many Verona restaurants were caught short when plans for full indoor dining were scrapped in early July.
The lowered limits for indoor gatherings also could throw a monkey wrench into plans to re-open schools in September as many educators, including former Verona Superintendent Charles Sampson were quick to note on Twitter yesterday. “School reopening plans are due @GovMurphy,” he wrote. We are in midst of working day & night for the fall. If we are getting through this together I’m waiting for the together part. Schools are in an impossible position & a checklist AFTER our plans are complete is unfathomable.”
School reopening plans are due @GovMurphy. We are in midst of working day & night for the fall. If we are getting through this together I’m waiting for the together part. Schools are in an impossible position & a checklist AFTER our plans are complete is unfathomable.
— Charles Sampson (@FRHSDSup) August 3, 2020
Verona’s tentative re-opening plan, previewed by current Superintendent Dr. Rui Dionisio on July 24, is predicated on 50% room capacity being allowed in half-day sessions only. Verona’s teachers union has expressed reservations about the plan. Dr. Dionisio said at last week’s Board of Education meeting that 82% of Verona parents had expressed interest in having their children return to in-person education in the fall. That is much higher than the state-wide average, which stands at 54% according to a survey done by the governor’s office.