Murphy Signs Executive Order Closing All Non-Essential Businesses, Urges Residents To Stay Home

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Saturday ordered non-essential retail businesses closed and directed nearly all residents to stay home, as the number of deaths from the coronavirus rose to 16 -- five of them from last night -- and the number of positive cases jumped to 1327.

Gov. Phil Murphy

Gov. Phil Murphy

Photo Credit: COURTESY: NJ Governor's Office

"New Jerseyans can still take a walk outside, go buy groceries, or get take-out from a local restaurant," Murphy said after signing an executive order. "But, otherwise, STAY AT HOME."

"ALL gatherings are cancelled," he added. "Any place where people congregate is a place where coronavirus can spread."

Murphy also signed a second executive order that essentially nullifies any enacted by local municipalities.

New Jersey had 442 new cases as of Saturday, along with the five deaths.

As of 9 p.m. Saturday, the governor ordered, only critical businesses may remain open:

  • Pharmacies and medical marijuana dispensaries;
  • Medical supply stores;
  • Gas stations;
  • Convenience stores;
  • Ancillary stores within healthcare facilities;
  • Hardware and home improvement stores;
  • Banks and other financial institutions;
  • Laundromats and dry-cleaning services;
  • Stores that principally sell supplies for children under five years;
  • Pet stores;
  • Liquor stores;
  • Car dealerships, but only for auto maintenance and repair, and auto mechanics;
  • Printing and office supply shops;
  • Mail and delivery stores;
  • Food banks;
  • Medical supply stores;
  • Restaurants and bars providing take-out and delivery only.

All other retail businesses must close, and all businesses must move to 100% work-from-home wherever possible, the governor said.

"It is no time for business as usual," Murphy said. "All retail businesses must close, and all businesses must have their employees work from home."

Hospitals and health care facilities will remain open.

Essential public health, safety, and social services will remain accessible.

The increase in the positive test results is expected as testing capacity increases. Expect to see significant increases over the next two weeks as additional testing centers open, the governor said.

"This is a time for us all to come together to flatten the curve, slow, and eventually halt the spread of #COVID19," Murphy said.

Murphy asked the roughly 9 million New Jerseyans on Saturday to "please stay at your primary residences," and not go to places along the Jersey Shore....The only way that we’re going to beat this darn virus is, literally, if we stay home.”

The state's first drive-thru COVID-19 test center opened Friday at Bergen County Community College in Paramus -- and then closed fairly quickly amid a line of vehicles that stretched for miles. Testing resumed for more than 300 residents on Saturday.

A second state testing site will open at 8 a.m. Monday at the PNC Bank Center in Holmdel, just off the Garden State Parkway, Murphy said, explaining that more time was needed to prepare it. Several private urgent care centers also are offering drive-thru testing.

Murphy once pleaded with the public that only those state residents with COVID-19 symptoms -- a fever of 99.6 degrees or above, shortness of breath and a cough – show up for testing.

An additional 1,000 hospital beds should be available next week, with an additional 1,300 after that, New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said.


COUNTY-BY-COUNTY BREAKDOWN of newest positive NJ cases (totals in parenthesis), as of Saturday, March 21:

  • Bergen -- 113 (362)
  • Middlesex -- 40 (110)
  • Essex -- 34 (107)
  • Monmouth -- 39 (82)
  • Passaic -- 17 (66)
  • Hudson -- (66)
  • Morris -- 28 (63)
  • Ocean -- 13 (62)
  • Mercer -- 8 (39)
  • Union (43)
  • Somerset -- 7 (35)
  • Burlington -- 4 (21)
  • Camden - (11)
  • Hunterdon -- 2 (11)
  • Warren -- 2 (5)
  • Sussex -- 1 (3)
  • Atlantic (3)
  • Gloucester (3)
  • Cape May  (1)
  • Cumberland  (1)
  • Salem  (0).

54 cases remained under investigation on Saturday.

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