FILE - NJ Phil Murphy 4-14-2020

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy speaks April 14, 2020, during his daily briefing on the coronavirus outbreak. Content Exchange

(The Center Square) – New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday outlined his three-phase plan for reopening the state.

The state is already in the first phase, with the start of curbside nonessential retail and the reopening of parks and beaches, Murphy said. The second phase includes a “broader restart” and includes expanded retail, outdoor dining, limited personal care, museums and libraries.

The third phase allows most activities with safety measures before the state enters what the governor calls the “new normal.”

All of the phases require social distancing and encourage mask wearing and proper hygiene. Murphy did not give a timeline, but said "this is not a life sentence.”

“I’m confident that we will be able to pass each test and move through the subsequent stages,” Murphy said. “We are managing today and planning for tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, the owners of Atilis Gym in Bellmawr opened their doors at 8 a.m. Monday with a group of people cheering, according to media reports. The owners said they were checking temperatures and following social distance and sanitation guidelines. The police advised the gym owners they were violating the executive order, but as of Monday afternoon, no arrests had been made.

Murphy said things could be different tomorrow.

“These aren’t just words,” Murphy said. “We’ve got to enforce this. But I also don’t want to start World War III. And I’m not worried about that right now.”

The number of new COVID-19 cases continues to trend downward, a hopeful sign that the state could reopen soon, according to the governor. Since the outbreak began, 148,039 positive cases have been reported and 10,435 people have died.

More than half of those were in the state’s long-term care facilities, prompting an investigation by the state attorney general. Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli responded to a report that COVID-19 positive patients were sent back to nursing homes.

“We did advise long term care facilities to readmit their residents if they had the appropriate PPE, the appropriate staffing and the ability to cohort, that is to separate COVID-19 patients from non-COVID-19 patients,” Persichilli said. “If the long-term care facility was not able to do that, they should not have readmitted.”

The state received 563 cases of remdesivir, an antiviral drug that is said to alleviate COVID-19 symptoms. Health officials have distributed 254 of the cases, which contains 40 doses each, and will distribute more tomorrow, said Dr. Eddy Bresnitz of the Health Department.

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