Law & the Courts

New York, New Jersey Crack Down on Social-Distancing Measures

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo delivers remarks at a news conference regarding the first confirmed case of coronavirus in N.Y., March 2, 2020. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

The governors of New York and New Jersey have vowed to crack down on social distancing, or encouraging people to keep at least a few feet away from each other in public, as the number of coronavirus cases increases in the states.

Governor Phil Murphy has vowed to take action on his order against public gatherings in New Jersey as the number of coronavirus cases in the state nears 2,000 but did not specify how he would enforce the new restrictions. Murphy first limited gatherings to 50 people but on Saturday dropped that number to zero.

“We are really damned unhappy, and we’re going to take action,” Murphy said about stories that a school in Lakewood and some non-essential stories were reportedly remaining open. “We are not happy with people out there ignoring what is a clear, unmistakable order to stay at home.”

New Jersey saw a spike of nearly 600 positive coronavirus cases from Saturday to Sunday after the state opened its first drive-thru testing site, with plans to open several more sites across the state.

Meanwhile, Governor Andrew Cuomo on Sunday gave New York City 24 hours to come up with a plan to discourage public gatherings and shrink the number of people congregating in public spaces.

“It’s insensitive, it’s arrogant, it’s self-destructive, it’s disrespectful to other people and it has to stop and it has to stop now,” Cuomo said about people he observed gathered in large groups, some playing recreational sports, during a tour of public places in the city on Saturday. “This is not a joke, and I am not kidding.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, however, appeared more optimistic about the city’s cooperation with the new restrictions.

“People really do get it,” de Blasio said Sunday about New Yorkers following social distancing measures. “I’ve been around my city the last few days — they’re getting the message more and more.”

However, the mayor added that restrictions on gathering in large groups will be enforced, and police will “go out and remind people, educate them, break up groups of people if they’re congregating.”

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