TRENTON — Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Monday increased indoor and outdoor gathering capacity limits as COVID-19 cases in this state continue to decline.

Effective immediately, indoor gatherings are now limited to 25% capacity of the rooms in which they will take place, with a maximum of 100 persons.

Outdoor gatherings are now limited to 250 persons, and outdoor religious services and political activities will continue to have no numerical limits.

“While we are still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the common sense public health measures that New Jerseyans have been complying with are now allowing for us to expand capacity limits,” said Gov. Murphy in a written statement. “We will continue to evaluate and make reopening decisions based on data, science, and facts."

Before Monday’s order, indoor gatherings were limited to 25% capacity, but with a maximum of 50 persons, and outdoor gatherings were limited to 100 persons, with the exception of outdoor religious services and political activities.

Furthermore, Monday’s order clarifies that for the purposes of outdoor dining, “outdoor areas” are to be defined as open air spaces without a fixed roof, besides a temporary or seasonal awning or cover.

Total positive cases of COVID-19 infection in Cape May County is now 714 including 61 deaths.

In addition, over the past week, out of county cases are 29, or just over 4 cases per day.

As a comparison, 33 county residents tested positive over the last week, or roughly 4.7 individuals on average per day.

Although widespread testing is being done throughout this state, new cases are popping up from people failing to social distance, the county's Department of Health said.

The majority of cases testing positive in Cape May County last week were young adults who were socializing without regard to the threats of spreading coronavirus, the health department said.

Most of these people are short-term visitors with permanent residence from another county or state, the health department said.

"It is important for our business community and visitors to understand the importance of proper social distancing, hand hygiene and wearing a mask," said Cape May County Freeholder Director Gerald M. Thornton in a statement.

The state received 359 new positive #COVID19 test results, bringing the  statewide cumulative total to 169,415, said Gov. Phil Murphy during his Monday afternoon press conference. 

The state's hospitals currently have 1,029 patients being treated for the virus, Murphy said. 

NJ TRANSIT has commissioned a study by Rutgers University’s Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT) on the use of ultraviolet-c (UVC) for disinfecting the agency’s bus fleet from viruses such as COVID-19. 

The study, to be conducted over the next few months, will include examining the effectiveness of the UVC wavelength in killing viruses, as well as electronically mapping the interior of different bus models to determine the best placement for the UVC source. The findings would be used to determine the best way to scale and implement the technology on the bus fleet.

Ultraviolet light in the germicidal range (200-280 nm light) known as “UVC” has proven to be effective at disinfecting water and surfaces; and may help reduce the risk of infection due to COVID-19 virus. UVC light energy is not the same as the UVA and UVB light wavelengths found in exposure to sunlight. UVC disinfection would not be used when customers are on board.

Ocean County has partnered with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) to provide $10 million in grants to small businesses in Ocean County affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our small businesses are truly the heart and soul of our communities. I am hopeful these grants can be of some help to the business owners that have been so negatively affected by the coronavirus pandemic,” said Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari. “This $10 million in grants is exclusive for Ocean County businesses, in addition to the $45 million in grant money available to all state businesses from the NJEDA.”

The grants are part of Phase 2 of the authority’s Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program. The Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders approved a Memorandum of Agreement entering into the partnership on June 16.

Ocean County is providing the funds from the money received through the federal CARES Act with the intent that the NJEDA distribute them only to businesses located in Ocean County. Business owners can apply for funding at forms.business.nj.gov/grant-2/.

The county grant program has been established for businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 25 employees to apply for the grant, on a first-come, first-serve basis. Applications are due by June 30.

Eligibility for the grant program was recently expanded to include all types of 501(c) nonprofit organizations to apply for funding under the second phase of the Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program. This includes veterans organizations and membership-based business and industry groups. Only 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4), 501(c)(7) organizations were eligible in Phase 1.

Vicari said tourism is a $5 billion business in Ocean County.

“It’s one of our biggest economic engines and our small businesses play an integral role in its success,” Vicari said.

For the second day, Atlantic County public health officials reported no deaths related to COVID-19. The county reported 13 new positive cases.

The new cases were among 11 males, ages 14-70, and two females, ages 34-42.

Ten of Monday's positive cases were from Hammonton, two from Egg Harbor Township and one from Pleasantville, bringing the countywide total to 2,795 with 191 deaths and 1,373 residents cleared as recovered.

The Atlantic County Animal Shelter has experienced a 95% live release rate during the last three months, an unexpected benefit from the COVID-19 pandemic, county officials said Monday.

“We are seeing record numbers of adoptions, redemptions and transfers to rescue organizations in conjunction with reduced numbers of surrendered pets and strays,” Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson said. “It is very gratifying to find loving homes for these animals. And to our surprise, the demand has only increased during the pandemic.”

A total of 81 cats and 91 dogs have been adopted during this time, in addition to 282 cats and 106 dogs that have been transferred to rescue agencies.

Shelter Manager Kathy Kelsey attributes the increased interest to the fact that most people have been spending more time at home, by choice or force, while others are seeking companionship to ease loneliness and isolation.

“The extra time at home also provides more opportunities to train and acclimate a new pet,” she added.

The shelter is currently open by appointment only in accordance with state public health protocols. Call 609-485-2345 or visit www.aclink.org/animalshelter for more information.

Casinos in Atlantic City can reopen and indoor dining may resume at limited capacity July 2, Gov. Phil Murphy announced on social media Monday morning.

According to the announcement, both casinos and indoor dining will be limited to 25% capacity.

Additional health and safety guidance will be released within the next several days.

WILDWOOD — Morey’s Piers and Beachfront Water Parks announced its plans to hire 500 seasonal staffers this summer.

“For the last couple of months, there were many unknowns related to our upcoming season due to the COVID-19 pandemic," said Denise Beckson, vice president of human resources. “But we believe now is the right time to significantly increase our hiring efforts as we hope to receive approval from the governor to open additional amenities throughout our parks.”

Employment opportunities are available in various departments, including ride operations, park services, lifeguards, food and beverage, game operations, and much more. Seasonal positions begin at $12 per hour and associates will receive additional perks including; food credits for meals, free use of the amusement rides and water park, discounted passes for friends and family, and more. Positions may last through September, with the greatest number of jobs available during the summer months.

Positions are available beginning immediately with flexible hours and schedules. Online applications are being accepted at: https://www.moreyspiers.com/jobs/summer-jobs or by texting SUMMER to 855-760-3700 (msg & data rates may apply).

ATLANTIC CITY — The Historic Organ Restoration Committee will present a free broadcast recital noon Wednesday on Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall's Midmer-Losh pipe organ - the world’s largest musical instrument ever built with its 33,112 pipes - as part on an ongoing series to promote the organs while the event center is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Organist Joshua Stafford will present a half hour of varied music including Igor Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. This recital will be streamed via Facebook at www.facebook.com/boardwalkorgans.

The recital is made possible by funds from the Atlantic County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs, a partner of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

Gov. Phil Murphy will give his daily coronavirus briefing at 2:30 p.m. Monday in Trenton.

The briefing will include Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli, State Epidemiologist Dr. Christina Tan, and State Police Superintendent Colonel Patrick Callahan.

Prior to that, Murphy will appear on CNN at 8 a.m. to discuss the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and at 8:30 a.m. on Good Day New York on Fox 5.

According to the latest data, New Jersey has had 169,142 total cases of COVID-19 and 12,870 deaths related to the virus.

Atlantic County had the most new cases as of Monday morning with 65, followed by 51 new cases in Mercer County.

Contact: 609-272-7251

CLowe@pressofac.com

Twitter @clairelowe

Staff Writer

I began covering South Jersey in 2008 after graduating from Rowan University with a degree in journalism. I joined The Press in 2015. In 2013, I was awarded a NJPA award for feature writing as a reporter for The Current of Hamilton Township.

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