Limit on New Jersey outdoor gatherings raised to 25 people ahead of Memorial Day Weekend

TRENTON, New Jersey -- New Jersey raised the limit on outdoor gatherings from 10 to 25 people ahead of Memorial Day Weekend as more businesses are allowed to reopen.

"So if you were looking forward to gathering with your neighbors for a Memorial Day cookout, you may do so, so long as social distancing and personal responsibility remain the order of the day," Governor Murphy said during a Friday morning press briefing.

Murphy said this executive order means recreational campgrounds, both public and private, are allowed to reopen, effective immediately.

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Governor Phil Murphy has signed an executive order that lifts the limit on outdoor gatherings from 10 to 25 individuals.

Capacity will also be raised to 25 individuals for charter and fishing boats, outdoor batting cages, driving ranges, and other outdoor recreational businesses.

"However, social distancing must be adhered to. Organized gatherings, for example, must include clear demarcations for attendees and we strongly recommend that everyone continue wearing face coverings," Murphy said.

Indoor gatherings remain limited to 10 people.

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More businesses can reopen in New Jersey amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

An executive order the governor signed earlier this week allowed certain outdoor activities at recreational businesses, including archery ranges, batting cages, golf driving ranges, horseback riding, shooting ranges, and tennis clubs as well as community gardens to open Friday with required social distancing measures in place.
All New Jersey public and private beaches can also open with certain restrictions as of Friday.

RELATED: More New Jersey recreational business get the green light to reopen Friday
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More New Jersey recreational activities get the green light for Friday.

"As soon as the announcement happened our phones started ringing off the hook," says Daniel Masarik.

Masarik runs Philadelphia South Clarksboro KOA campground.

"All the weekenders can come out and kind of start to blow off some steam. Make some s'mores and roast hot dogs and all those things," said Masarik.

Majoda Stables in Moorestown will now allow their students to groom and interact with horses inside the stables.
"Now we're going to be able to have students come back and enter the barn, and get the horse ready, and go out ride," said Diane Baker-Halloween.

Batting cages have reopened too. Gino's golf and batting cages in Mantua has been in operation for 33 years.

The owner is concerned people will still be wary of going out.

"I hope it gets better but it looks like people are afraid to come out," said owner, Gino Postrovio.

To limit physical interactions, the governor's order requires outdoor recreational businesses that reopen to limit capacity to 25 individuals at one time and implement restrictions that include:

- Using electronic or telephone reservation and payment systems;

- Prohibiting impermissible gatherings;
- Installing physical barriers between employees and customers;
- Limiting the use of equipment to one person;
- Implementing social distancing measures in commonly used areas, including demarcation and signage;
- Infection control and hygiene practices;
- Providing sanitization materials to employees;
- Frequent sanitization of high-touch areas; and
- Limiting occupancy of restrooms.
Golf courses are now allowed to expand tee-times to four players, use forecaddies, offer club and equipment rentals, and reopen restrooms with disinfecting and hygiene protocols in place.

The order recommends that people wear a face covering while in public settings at outdoor recreational businesses and community gardens when social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.

The order further clarifies that amusements parks and arcades, and other places of public amusement located at these businesses remain closed,

Governor Phil Murphy says the state is moving closer to phase two, which could include outdoor dining, limited indoor dining and the reopening of some personal care businesses.

The state Republican party is going to court to try to get more businesses open sooner.

The state GOP filed a lawsuit Thursday in state Superior Court in Cape May County.

Leaders want to overturn Murphy's executive order, which is keeping nonessential businesses closed. They believe the classifications were arbitrary and unfair.

The governor declined to discuss the lawsuit.


A look at other developments:

New Jersey public college and universities will be receiving a total of $68.8 million in federal CARES Act funds. This will be used to help cover COVID-19 related expenses.

Murphy said the state is developing a formula to ensure this funding is "equitably allocated."

On Friday, New Jersey reported 1,394 new positive cases, bringing the statewide total 152,719.

The total number of deaths reached 10,985 as the state reported 146 new deaths.


State Budget

New Jersey faces a $10 billion revenue gap, Murphy said Friday. That's roughly a quarter of the state's nearly $40 billion budget. He said open minds are needed to find solutions to the fiscal crisis.

The Democrat-led Legislature and Murphy extended the fiscal year from June 30 to September 30 earlier this year.

Treasurer Liz Muoio is scheduled to give an update later on Friday.


Atlantic City Hotels

Atlantic City's mayor says hotels and online rental marketplaces may resume operations on May 29.

Marty Small made the announcement Friday. But there's a big caveat: The order does not apply to the city's nine casino hotels.

Hotels owned and operated by the casinos must remain closed until the state Division of Gaming Enforcement allows them to reopen. So far, no date has been set for the casinos to reopen. Earlier this week, Murphy, speaking of casino reopenings, said, "We're just not there yet."

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