TRENTON, N.J. (CBS/AP) — Gov. Phil Murphy is essentially shutting down the state of New Jersey as the number of coronavirus cases jumped to 178 in the Garden State. All of New Jersey’s public and private schools, along with colleges and universities, will close indefinitely starting Wednesday, while bars, restaurants and casinos will shutter at 8 p.m. on Monday.
“Today, I am signing an executive order stating that effective Wednesday, March 18, all New Jersey schools will be closed. And while this closure will be for at least two weeks, they will remain closed until such time as it is deemed by health officials to be safe for them to reopen,” Murphy said.
BREAKING: New Jersey reporting 80 new cases of #coronavirus. There is now a total of 178 cases in the state, ranging in age from 5-93 years.
— Jessica Kartalija (@JessKartalija) March 16, 2020
Murphy is mobilizing the National Guard after 80 new cases were announced. There is now a total of 178 COVID-19 cases ranging in age from 5 to 93.
The state is setting up testing sites as soon as possible.
“We will do this the right way, the responsible way,” Murphy said.
To slow the spread of #COVID19, I'm ordering:
•Closure of ALL pre-K, K-12 schools, higher ed insts. beginning 3/18
•Closure of ALL casinos, racetracks, theaters, gyms
•Closure of ALL non-essential retail, recreational, & entertainment bizs after 8pm
•Banning gatherings of 50+ pic.twitter.com/mmZe0bZWgb
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) March 16, 2020
Murphy says the overall educational needs and free meals will be met for students and that bars and restaurants can remain open for takeout or delivery only.
Essential businesses like supermarkets and gas stations will be able to stay open after 8 p.m., though all non-essential businesses must close.
“With all we are seeing in our state – and across our nation and around the world – the time for us to take our strongest, and most direct, actions to date to slow the spread of coronavirus is now. I’ve said many times over the past several days that, in our state, we are going to get through this as one New Jersey family. But if we’re all in this together, we must work with our neighboring states to act together. The work against coronavirus isn’t just up to some of us, it’s up to all of us,” Murphy said.
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 is prohibiting gatherings of 50 or more people, lining up with federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.
Murphy says it’s not a curfew but he is asking people not to travel between the hours of 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.
“Starting tonight, all non-essential and non-emergency travel in New Jersey is strongly discouraged between the hours of 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. This will remain in effect for the foreseeable future. We want everyone to be home – and not out,” Murphy said.
The DMV has also closed its offices for the next two weeks.
There are currently 17 coronavirus cases in South Jersey — including six in Mercer County, five in Burlington County, and three each in Camden and Ocean Counties.
In the city of Burlington, students can still receive breakfast and lunch each morning weekday at Wilbur Watts School, Burlington City High School and LIFE Four Corners Daycare.
CBS3’s Lesley Van Arsdall contributed to this report.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)