(Bloomberg) -- New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said the state’s pace of reopening from shutdowns designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus reflect in part by how much “knucklehead” behavior emerges as restrictions are relaxed.
“The family, friends and neighbors who we have lost are the reason why we can’t rush our restart,” Murphy said at a press briefing on Saturday. “If we are reckless we will lose not just more, but many more beyond that.”
On Sunday, Murphy said that it’s been so far, so good in terms of people’s behavior. “Compliance was very high in terms of social distancing and not congregating,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”
New Jersey, second only to New York in the number of coronavirus cases and deaths, allowed state parks and golf courses to re-open Saturday for the first time since early April. Murphy said officials would be monitoring closely for compliance with social distancing.
“If we hear reports of people not taking either their health or the health of -- maybe even more importantly -- the health of other park-goers seriously then we won’t hesitate to -- and I don’t say this with any joy -- to close them again,” Murphy said. “If we can do this, and I know we can, then we will be able to move forward.”
Murphy said on April 28 that New Jersey is still “a number of weeks away” from totally reopening. He hedged on Sunday when asked if the state -- including beaches would be largely reopened by Memorial Day, May 25. “I think it’s too early to tell, for lots of reasons, including our neighbors,” he said.
Speaking Sunday on Fox, Murphy stressed the need for federal help to get the state back in its feet, and said he “had a very good conversation” about that with President Donald Trump last week at the White House.
“This isn’t about the old legacy stuff,” Murphy said, a reference to suggestions Democrat-led states are looking for bailouts for long-running budget problems. “We’re already seeing some layoffs in New Jersey. We need a big slug of federal, direct cash assistance.”
“It’s not just New Jersey and it’s not just blue states,” Murphy said. “It would make a huge difference.”
On Saturday the Democrat announced that 53 New Jersey hospitals would receive a total of $1.7 billion in funding from the federal government, second only to New York in their share of $12 billion being distributed to hard-hit states.
“This $1.7 billion will certainly help ensure that our entire health care systems is, itself, healthy to join us on the road back,” Murphy said.
(Updates with Murphy’s Fox comments from third paragraph.)
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