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As part of an effort to slow the spread of the second wave of COVID,  New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced on his social media today that he is issuing a new executive order on group gatherings.

Starting tomorrow, November 17, indoor gatherings will be limited to a maximum of 10 people. Governors and officials across the country are issuing similar indoor gathering restrictions, and are asking people to only gather with the members of their household and avoid larger family groups. 

“What we are doing today, we know will cause some people to readjust their Thanksgiving plans, and I understand why there might be frustration with this step. We’ve been saying for weeks this will not be a normal Thanksgiving,” Murphy noted in his press conference today. “It’s not a normal school year. It’s not a normal Thanksgiving. It wasn’t a normal Halloween. It won’t be a normal Hanukkah or Christmas. And 2020 won’t be normal period. We’re urging everybody to keep their Thanksgiving plans as small as possible, because we know that indoor gatherings in home are particularly dangerous places for COVI-19 to spread. The smaller the gathering is the less likely that someone is infected and puts their loved ones at risk. It’s that simple.”

Certain indoor gatherings will be allowed to stay under the current rules of 25 percent of a room’s capacity, up to a maximum of 150 people. The exceptions are for religious services and celebrations, political events, weddings, funerals, memorial services and performances. Indoor sports practices and games will be allowed more than 10 people, but only players, referees and coaches will be allowed. When practices exceed more than 10 people, spectators will not be permitted. 

Also, starting on November 23, outdoor gatherings in New Jersey are limited to a maximum of 150 people (it has been 500 people since the summer). This includes sports events, concerts and outdoor performances. The 150 limit for sports includes players, teams and personnel so the number of allowable spectators will be lower than 150. Outdoor gatherings are subject to social distancing requirements and masks are mandated when social distancing isn’t possible. 

Governor Murphy met last night with governors from neighboring states to strategize about plans to keep COVID numbers under control, so more restrictions may be coming. This new executive order comes on the heels of last week’s new rules regarding restaurants and indoor sports. During his press conference today, Murphy said that in the past four days there have been more than 14,000 new cases, which is 5% of the total cases since the first cases in March.

“As it relates to your private setting, we just have to plead with people to not let your guard down, to keep your gatherings as small as possible and to keep fighting this,” Murphy said Thursday on the TODAY show. “Don’t let your hair down, even when you’re in your own home, even when you’re celebrating holidays with your loved ones,” he added.

As of today, November 16, there have been 281,493 cases total, currently 2,115 people are hospitalized and there are 417 COVID patients in the ICU. There are 14 new deaths, with a total of 14,779 people who have lost their lives due to COVID.

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