Thanksgiving, Hockey and Other Items in the Crosshairs of COVID-19


Things are getting tough again, although it may not seem that way.

The roads are far more congested than they were in the spring and people are again visiting restaurants, health clubs and going to school.

At the same time, the state saw more than 14,000 new cases of COVID-19 in the last four days alone.

As the pace of life in New Jersey has slowly etched back to “normal,” you get the feeling it’s going to be so much harder for some to accept new restrictions.

That’s the immediate challenge for Phil Murphy, who announced precisely that today.

Indoor gatherings are now limited to 10 people and outdoor events to 150.

“We have got to get back in front of this virus,” is how the governor put it.

There are exceptions for weddings, funerals, religious services and political events.

But not for Thanksgiving.

As he has done previously, the governor urged that people keep their Turkey Day celebrations small – like less than 10.

Judy Persichilli, the health commissioner, presented suggestions that you know, rightly or wrongly, are going to be ridiculed by critics. For example, she said only one person should prepare the salad and that folks should refrain from singing and shouting to avoid spreading the virus through the air.

No shouting?

That’s going to be tough, given the fact shouting, normally over politics, can be a Thanksgiving dinner staple.

Enforcement of indoor gatherings can be impossible.

As Murphy quipped, he and other state officials can’t be in your living room, adding,

“You probably wouldn’t want us.”

So much of this depends on voluntary public compliance.

On that score, Murphy is encouraged.

He said compliance on mask-wearing and social distancing during the spring exceeded what models projected.

But that was months ago and before the weather turned cold and “pandemic fatigue” set in. As the governor admitted, recent months have seen “myths” crop up and “bad behavior.”

When it comes to what the state can do, you get the sense officials will enforce what they can.

The governor said inspectors of the Alcoholic Beverage Commission fanned out over the state last weekend and found 15 violations. That will continue.

And then there’s hockey.

The governor said strong anecdotal evidence suggests that many of those involved in youth hockey – parents among them — have been ignoring regulations.

If that continues, Murphy is ready to act.

“Hockey is in our cross-hairs,” he said.

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