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Posted on: October 28, 2020

COVID-19 Update: October 28, 2020

Nationally, the number of new COVID-19 infections has risen dramatically. COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations & deaths in NJ are rising but the hospitalizations & deaths are in lower proportion to infections, than what was experienced earlier this year.

Cooler weather, increased indoor activities, second waves of COVID outbreaks overseas, pandemic fatigue and increased levels of testing are contributing to the increasing numbers.

The rate of transmission has been fluctuating in recent weeks between 1.16 and 1.60.  Anything above 1.0 is considered concerning. The higher the number, the greater the risk of viral spread throughout the community. This rate has consistently averaged above 1.0 over the last several weeks. 

While COVID activity had been particularly better in the Northeast and Northwest regions of the State, these regions have now joined the rest of the State by moving from low COVID activity (green) to moderate COVID activity (yellow). Statewide, COVID activity has been slowly but consistently increasing, including in Morris County. However, it should be noted that approximately half of the other NJ counties are experiencing more COVID activity than in Morris County. Within all of the Pequannock Health Department’s jurisdictions, the number of new cases has been steadily increasing. While these aren’t necessarily sharp increases, the increases are pronounced and trending upward. It has gradually become a different situation than the very low activity we enjoyed over the past several months.

Please see the link below for the NJ Regional COVID Activity Report and Diagram through October 17th  and the links to the Morris County Health Department COVID Websites: 

NJ Regional COVID Activity Report

Morris County Health Department

Executive Orders

The latest COVID-19 relevant Executive Orders that were issued, are as follows: 

Executive Order No. 181 Allows Gyms, Indoor Amusement and Water Parks

Effective  6:00 a.m. on Tuesday, September 1, 2020 “Health clubs,” as defined by N.J.S.A. 56:8-39, which include gyms and fitness centers, as well as amusement and water parks, can open their indoor premises as of 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday, September 1, 2020, provided that such businesses adopt policies that include, at minimum, the following requirements:  

  • Limit occupancy of any indoor premises to 25 percent of the stated maximum capacity, if applicable, at one time, excluding staff.
  • Require that reservations, cancellations, and pre-payments be made via electronic or telephone reservation systems to limit physical interactions. Such policies shall, wherever possible, consider populations that do not have access to internet service or credit cards.
  • Install a physical barrier, such as a shield guard, between customers and employees wherever feasible or otherwise ensure six feet of distance is maintained between those individuals, except at the moment of payment.  
  • Limit the use of equipment rented or otherwise provided by the business to one person at a time, and that a distance of no less than six feet distance form others utilizing exercise equipment is maintained, excluding immediate family members, caretakers, household members, or romantic partners, and sanitize such equipment before and after use.
  • Demarcate and post signs that denote six feet of spacing in all commonly used and other applicable areas or where people may form a line.
  • Require infection control practices, such as regular hand washing, coughing and sneezing etiquette, and proper tissue usage and disposal. 

Executive Order No. 183 Allows Indoor Dining and Performance and Entertainment Venues  

  • Indoor Dining

Effective at 6:00 a.m. on Friday, September 4, 2020, restaurants, cafeterias, dining establishments, and food courts, with or without a liquor license, bars, and all other holders of a liquor license with retail consumption privileges, collectively referred to as “food or beverage establishments,” are permitted to offer in-person service at indoor areas, provided that the establishment complies with the following requirements: 

  • Limit the number of patrons in indoor areas to 25 percent of the food or beverage establishment’s indoor capacity, excluding the food or beverage establishment’s employees. 
  • Ensure that tables where individuals or groups are seated are six feet apart in all directions from any other table or seat and that individual seats in any shared area that is not reserved for individual groups, such as an indoor bar area, are also six feet apart in all directions from any other table or seat. 
  • Require indoor patrons to wear face coverings while inside the indoor premises of the food or beverage establishment. When seated at their table or their individual seat, indoor patrons shall wear face coverings until their food or drinks arrive, and after individuals have finished consuming their food or drinks, they shall put their face coverings back on. The face covering requirement does not apply if the patron has a medical reason for not wearing a face covering or is a child under two years of age.  
  • Performance and Entertainment Venues

Effective at 6:00 a.m. on September 4, 2020, entertainment centers where performances are viewed or given, including movie theaters, performing arts centers, and other concert venues, may open their indoor spaces to the public with the following requirements: 

  • Limit the number of patrons in any indoor room where a performance is viewed or given to 25 percent of the stated maximum capacity, if applicable, at one time, excluding the entertainment business’s employees.
  • Regardless of the capacity of the room, such limit shall never be larger than 150 persons. 
  • Require workers and customers to wear cloth face coverings while in the indoor portion of the premises, except where doing so would inhibit that individual’s health or where the individual is under two years of age. 

Executive Order No. 187 Allows the Resumption of Certain Indoor and Outdoor Sports Activities  

Effective October 12, 2020, non-contact practices, contact practices, and competitions for sports defined as “Low Risk”, “Medium Risk”, and “High Risk” by DOH’s “Guidance for Sports Activities” are permitted in both outdoor and indoor settings. All activities referenced in this Paragraph are subject to the “Guidance for Sports Activities” issued by the Commissioner of the DOH, and such activities must comply with all applicable laws, regulations, and Executive Orders, including restrictions on recreational and entertainment businesses.  

No-contact practices, contact practices, and competitions that are conducted indoors are subject to the current indoor gathering limit of 25% of the capacity of the room in which it takes place, with such limit not to exceed 25 persons or be smaller than 10 persons. However, if the number of individuals who are necessary for a non-contact practice, contact practice, or competition, such as players, coaches, and referees, is greater than 25 persons, such a non-contact practice, contact practice, or competition may proceed, as long as no individuals are present who are not necessary for the no-contact practice, practice, or competition, such as spectators. If this exception applies, the number of individuals at such an indoor gathering still may not exceed 25% of the capacity of the room in which it takes place, and such limit may not exceed 150 persons. 

NOTE- Other restrictions may be applicable for the activities specified in the above mentioned Executive Orders. For additional information, please refer to the entire content of Executive Orders and Executive Directives at the links below.

Additional Links

Executive Orders from Governor Murphy

Executive Directives

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