Phil Murphy knows what the problem is.
Some people are “mad as hell” and losing patience with pandemic restrictions. Or rather, they no longer want “to take it.”
That could become a problem that keeps growing.
Today. the governor rolled back an easing of restrictions on indoor gatherings.
They are now limited to a maximum of 25; for the last few weeks, capacity was 100.
You could see this coming. The last few briefings have seen the governor highlight what he likes to call “knucklehead” behavior. In this case, that means large indoor parties with no social distancing and no wearing of masks.
We heard last week about house parties in Middleton and Long Beach Island and today, there was talk of a large party over the weekend in Alpine with people allegedly bussed in from New York City. By the way, Alpine is one of the wealthiest towns in not only the state, but the country.
Murphy didn’t have all the details about the Alpine bash, but said, “I have not liked what I’ve heard.” He said that if the busing part of things is true, “that’s not going to end well … for the sponsors of the party.” He was referring to criminal penalties.
The governor is worried that the state’s transmission rate for COVID-19 is now 1.48 percent; it was less than 1 percent a few weeks ago This number estimates how many other people a person having the virus will infect on average.
Compared to the rest of the country, New Jersey continues to do well. And that is the point.
Murphy says he is concerned poor behavior will wipe away the progress the state has made.
Judith Persichilli, the health commissioner, put it this way, “I know we all want life to return to normal. But now is not the time to be complacent.”
That brings us to the “mad as hell” part of the briefing.
The governor said he understands that after more than four months of various pandemic restrictions, some people are fed up and just want to break loose. But his understanding goes only so far.
He chided those who want to ignore or make an “end run” around regulations. House parties, he said, are the biggest offenders and with lower capacity, authorities have more ammunition to crack down on them. Exceptions to the new limit of 25 are weddings, funerals, religious services and political events.
Speaking of end runs, Murphy referred to some restaurants who think serving customers indoors, but at tables next to open windows, is permissible. It is not, he said.
He also reiterated the problem he has with indoor dining by pointing out an obvious fact. People have to remove their masks to eat.
It’s tough to argue with that.