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March 23, 2020

New Jersey to crackdown on violators of coronavirus stay-at-home mandate

'The time for warnings is over,' Attorney General Gurbir Grewal says

Stay at home or suffer the legal consequences was the message delivered by New Jersey officials on Monday during the state's daily update on the coronavirus outbreak.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said authorities will be cracking down on individuals and businesses not abiding by the social-distancing guidelines laid out by Gov. Phil Murphy.

Non-essential businesses that refuse to shut their doors and individuals who host private gatherings, such as house parties, are committing "a criminal offense," Grewal said Monday. He emphasized that "the time for warnings is over."

"For those who refuse to do their part, I can assure you, there will be serious legal consequences," Grewal said.

Penalties that the state could levy against violators range from disorderly persons citations to indictable offenses.

"Consider this as your final warning," Grewal said. "Your actions are against the law of the state of New Jersey, and you will be held accountable."

On Sunday, Gov. Murphy did not mince words about his displeasure with residents refusing to practice social distancing, stating he was "really damned unhappy about it" and vowed to take action.

Murphy even took to Twitter on Monday to further implore residents to stay home to help stop the spread of coronavirus in the state.

Murphy mandated all residents to "stay at home" and banned public and private gatherings of all sizes across the state on Saturday, and he ordered all non-essential businesses to close until further notice. The ban includes parties, weddings, and in-person services.

Essential businesses in New Jersey are grocery stores, food banks, pharmacies, medical marijuana dispensaries, gas stations, automobile repair shops, convenience stores, banks and financial institutions, hardware repair stores, laundromats, printing stores, pet stores, stores with children's supplies, mail and delivery stores, and liquor stores. Restaurant and bars may only remain open for food takeout and delivery.

There are currently 2,844 confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey and 27 deaths as of Monday afternoon.

A Camden County woman on Sunday became the first person in South Jersey to die from COVID-19.

There are currently 92 positive cases in South Jersey. Burlington County has 36 cases, Camden County has 33 cases, Gloucester County has 13 cases, Atlantic County has six cases, Cape May County has two cases, and both Cumberland and Salem counties each have one case.

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