TRENTON, N.J. - All New Jersey bars, restaurants, movie theaters and casinos shuttered at 8 p.m. Monday.
Gov. Phil Murphy announced the closings on a call with fellow Democratic Govs. Andrew Cuomo, of New York, and Ned Lamont, of Connecticut, who are calling for similar closures in their states as part of a regional response to the virus.
Bars and restaurants can remain open for takeout or delivery only. The governor also said that gatherings of 50 or more people would be prohibited, in line with federal guidelines.
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Murphy told residents to take the threat from the virus seriously — calling out people over the weekend who frequented bars and pubs to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. He also added that people should not panic.
“This is not a time for selfishness. This is a time to think of those around you,” he said. “There are some people out there who think this is fake news. This is not fake news. This is real.”
Murphy also said he’s mobilizing the National Guard, though he characterized the step as preparatory at this point. He said guardsmen and women could be used to help pass out meals, for example.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli provide an update on the state's response to the deadly coronavirus. (Edwin J. Torres/Governor’s Office)
The steps mark the latest escalation of efforts to keep people apart in the New York metropolitan area, and an attempt to coordinate a response.
"We've got to work through this together. The feds have been asleep at the switch," Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont told reporters on a conference call.
For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
The vast majority of people recover. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.
The state's new positive cases range from 5 years old to 93 years old, according to Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.