New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is re-tightening restrictions on indoor gatherings following a recent surge in COVID-19 cases in the state that officials have linked to house parties and other indoor events.
Murphy on Monday said he was limiting indoor gatherings to just 25 people, or 25 percent of a room’s capacity, down from the previous limit of 100.
The reversed restrictions will not apply to weddings, funerals and memorial services, and religious and political activities protected under the First Amendment.
It comes after the state started recording the biggest spikes in daily coronavirus cases for at least two months.
The state saw a spike of nearly 700 new cases on Friday – a surge not seen since may 29.
While Gov Murphy had delayed allowing indoor dining in June, the limit for indoor gatherings increased to 100 people.
It was up from the previous restriction of 50 people.
‘The actions of a few knuckleheads leaves us no other course,’ Murphy said at a news briefing.
‘We have to go back and tighten these restrictions once again until we begin to see the numbers of cases decrease.’
It comes after police in Jackson Township arrested three people last month for violating the state’s social distancing rules after authorities spent hours breaking up a 700-person party at an Airbnb mansion.
The party took place in Jackson Township at a mansion that had been rented out for $795-a-night on Airbnb on July 26.
Footage on Instagram that appeared to be taken inside the party showed people dancing and drinking within close proximity to each other.
Police arrested the homeowner Yaakov Weiss, 40, as well as party organizers – Patience Guanue, 23, and Alicia Hinneh, 22 – for violating Gov Murphy’s executive order limiting large gatherings due to coronavirus.
Other events that have been tied to COVID-19 clusters include a graduation party in Cape May that saw 46 people infected and a graduation party in Westfield that resulted in 17 cases.
A Long Beach Island party also resulted in 35 lifeguards getting infected.