When’s the so-called “other shoe” going to drop?
With new, daily COVID cases now averaging more than 3,000 – 3,635 were announced today – it’s logical to wonder when, and if, the governor will impose new lockdowns.
Phil Murphy acknowledged at his briefing today that he’s asked all the time about non-essential retail and indoor dining. Both were banned at the initial height of the pandemic last spring, but have now reopened, although indoor dining is limited to 25 percent capacity.
Murphy’s answer to that question was at first a bit bewildering. He talked about Mitch McConnell, who he often criticizes.
The governor indicated that if the Senate GOP leader continues “sitting on his hands” and not getting behind a major stimulus, there probably won’t be another lock down.
Now you begin to see his point. Shutting non-essential businesses and indoor dining without them getting help from the feds would be a crippling blow to business owners. The governor even ratcheted up the rhetoric by talking about the state having “blood” on its hands if it went that route.
But here’s the obvious question.
If there is another stimulus, and by extension, more aid for small businesses, would there be another complete lock down?
Reading between the lines would tell you yes, but like any hypothetical, it’s not true unless it really happens.
Rising COVID numbers, notwithstanding, the feeling here is that stimulus or not, there’s a lot of pressure in the state to avoid another total lock down. In fact, a group plans a march this Sunday in Morristown to make that very point.
Schools were also on the governor’s mind.
He sarcastically complimented a resident’s “priorities” after being sent a quote about closing schools and allowing youth hockey to be played. Murphy said the gist of the quote was that school can be virtual, hockey can’t.
This allowed the governor to generally defend keeping schools open. He said school buildings are exceptionally safe, noting the emphasis on masks, social distancing and constant cleaning.
“The data we present is the data that is vetted,” he said.
The governor also clarified an order limiting outdoor events to 150 people. It takes effect Monday.
Previously, he said the 150-limit includes players, coaches and officials. This would have made a high school football game virtually off-limits to spectators. But today, Murphy said the limit exempts all those involved in the game itself.
This is relevant because high school football playoffs, which normally draw large crowds, are ongoing.
Next week, a “large” crowd will be 150.