You now need face coverings in NJ to enter restaurants and stores
After ordering all retail and supermarket customers to wear face coverings while inside stores, Gov. Phil Murphy is now ordering face coverings for anyone entering a bar or restaurant to pick up their take-out order.
Murphy announced the latest executive order on Saturday, when deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, had reached 2,183 in the state.
The face coverings — which can be something as simple as a bandana or scarf that covers the mouth and nose — will not be required for drive-thru or curbside pickup orders.
Earlier in the week, Murphy had announced that supermarkets would have to require customers to wear the coverings beginning Friday night. Supermarkets and essential retailers also have to reduce occupancy in their stores by 50 percent, meaning that some customers will have to wait outside before being let in.
People who cannot wear a face covering for medical reasons are exempt.
Murphy on Saturday also ordered NJ Transit to require that all customers wear face coverings while riding trains, buses, light rail or other vehicles. NJ Transit also will have to reduce occupancy by 50 percent, which may not be a problem because ridership has plummeted by more than 90% after commuters began working from home or lost their jobs.
NJ Transit workers also will have to wear masks and gloves.
Murphy said the NJ Transit order was to protect many essential workers.
“Public transit is how they get to work and we need to protect them during that trip,” he said.
As of Saturday morning, more than 7,600 patients with COVID-19 were in New Jersey hospitals, which had discharged 682 patients overnight.
More than half of the state’s inventory of ventilators was being used on 1,650 patients.
Hospitals have already begun to use the FEMA field hospitals with 20 patients at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus. Officials expected another 30 patients there by Saturday evening. The facility has 250 beds.
The field hospital at the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center in Edison was opening Saturday and expected to get 20 patients by evening. That hospital has 500 beds.
A third field hospital is close to opening in Atlantic City.
Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said that the Navy hospital ship Mercy in New York Harbor also will be accepting mid-acuity medical/surgical patients from New Jersey.