By: Michael Mandarino, Follow South Jersey Managing Editor
SOUTH JERSEY — Over the past few weeks, New Jersey has taken a number of measures to loosen its COVID-19-related restrictions. There won’t be any new expansions of those restrictions “for some time,” according to Governor Phil Murphy.
“My guess is we won’t be opening capacity for some time now because of the caseload,” Gov. Murphy said during an appearance on CNN. “We’re watching these variants very closely. The case numbers are clearly up. We clearly have these variants in our state as we are seeing in New York City. It’s a little reminiscent of what happened last spring.”
There are a number of COVID-19 variants that originated in various parts of the world — including London and South Africa — and subsequently spread to the United States. These variants could potentially “dodge” the current COVID-19 vaccines and prompt Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson to update their models in the near future.
According to New Jersey’s COVID-19 dashboard, current case numbers are decidedly down from their mid-January peak. However, cases have essentially plateaued over the last few weeks — a change from the strong downward trend the state reported throughout late January and early-to-mid February. Over the last week, New Jersey has averaged about 3,000 new COVID-19 cases per day.
Gov. Murphy and the state of New Jersey have taken plenty of steps to loosen COVID-19-related restrictions over the past month-and-a-half. Restaurants and other indoor businesses like casinos and gyms are now allowed to operate at 50% capacity as of March 19. New Jersey even allowed spectators to return to sporting events at 10% capacity beginning March 1. Religious ceremonies such as funerals, wedding ceremonies, and memorial services have also been operating at 50% capacity since late February.
New Jersey increased its general indoor gathering capacity limit from 10 to 25 people and its general outdoor gathering capacity limit from 25 to 50. Gov. Murphy also said that in-person visitation at most long-term care facilities is now permitted.
As of Wednesday morning, New Jersey has administered more than 3.6 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Of those, more than 1.2 million people are fully vaccinated after receiving their second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna models or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.
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