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LIVE UPDATES: Outdoor amusement parks, Boardwalk rides to reopen July 2

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The Sea Serpent on Morey's Piers (Mariner's Landing on Sat June 10, 2006. (The Press of Atlantic City / Ben Fogletto )

Gov. Phil Murphy announced Tuesday that Boardwalk rides and amusement parks will be allowed to reopen July 2.

While guidance for operations will be forthcoming, Murphy said that employees and customers should anticipate that park capacity will be kept at 50% and face masks will be required, as well as social distancing and heightened hygiene.

“With next week’s July Fourth holiday weekend rapidly approaching and with families rightfully looking for ways to enjoy their time off together, we wanted to make it known that yes, the rides will be in operation,” Murphy said. “But, moreover, we want everyone to enjoy their time together responsibly.”

The number of positive cases of COVID-19 in New Jersey has increased by 382, bringing the total to 169,734, Murphy said Tuesday. There have been 57 additional deaths, bringing the state total to 12,949.

There are 1,092 people hospitalized across the state, including 307 people in intensive care and 216 people on ventilators, Murphy said. Between 10 p.m. Sunday and 10 p.m. Monday, 48 residents were discharged from hospitals, while 50 people entered hospitals.

In South Jersey, there were 14 new hospitalizations, Murphy said, with 15 discharges.

So far, Atlantic County has reported 2,822 cases with 195 deaths and 1,388 cleared as recovered. Cape May County has reported 714 cases with 61 deaths and 530 designated off quarantine. Cumberland County has reported 2,414 cases with 127 deaths.

Included in the totals are four additional deaths and 27 more cases Atlantic County officials announced Tuesday.

Three of the fatalities were residents of long-term care facilities, according to a news release from county spokeswoman Linda Gilmore. The fatalities included a 55-year-old Atlantic City man, an 80-year-old Galloway man, an 86-year old Hammonton woman and a 96-year-old Northfield woman.

The 27 residents who have tested positive include 17 men, ages 22 to 88, and 10 women, ages 22 to 53, Gilmore said. Eleven of the positives were found in Hammonton, six in Pleasantville and two each in Egg Harbor Township and HamiltonTownship. Absecon, Atlantic City, Egg Harbor City, Mullica Township, Northfield and Somers Point each had one new positive.

Additionally, 15 more residents have been cleared as recovered, she said.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

Playgrounds will also be allowed to reopen July 2, Murphy said, adding that officials plan to give a timeline of the reopening of indoor recreation tomorrow.

“The only reason we are comfortable making these announcements this week is because social distancing and everything else you’re doing, folks, is actually working,” Murphy said. “Social distancing is the only thing that has allowed us to crush the curves – I would add face coverings to that – over the past three months and what has allowed us to catch up a virus that has no vaccine and no proven therapeutic.”

Also during the briefing, Murphy highlighted the death of Benita DiFabio, 84, of Ventnor, who died from COVID-19.

Benita worked at the original Golden Nugget in Atlantic City and was a member of Local 54, Murphy said. She also worked for the Atlantic City Board of Elections.

Wednesday's briefing is scheduled for 1 p.m.

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The Art on Asbury Gallery announced Tuesday that starting on Friday they'll be open seven days a week.

The new hours include:

  • Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Sunday from noon to 3:30 p.m.
  • Monday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
  • Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

The next Show & Exhibition will start on Friday, July 17, with a “Summertime” theme, according to the release.

For more information, call 609-814-0308 or visit oceancityfineartsleague.org.

Local organizations have scheduled food distribution events this week for residents of Atlantic County and Atlantic City effected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, or CRDA, and their partners will be distributing food from 10 a.m. Thursday at Bader Field. The event is drive-up only, with no one getting out of their cars, and food will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis for Atlantic City residents and employees of Bally’s Atlantic City and Caesars Atlantic City

Registration is required at the Community Food Bank website, https://cfbnj.org/.

Friends in Action and their partners will be distributing food at the following locations and times:

  • Noon Tuesday at Shore Park Low Rise, 911 Mediterranean Avenue. Identification is required.
  • Noon Wednesday at Shore Park Low Rise, 911 Mediterranean Avenue.
  • Noon Thursday beginning at 2709 Fairmount Avenue.

Identification is required.

The Fellowship of Churches of the Atlantic City & Vicinity and The National Pan-Hellenic Council of Atlantic County are offering a free food give-away on Wednesday. The distribution will take place from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Atlantic Cape Community College at the corner of Kentucky and Baltic Avenues. Food will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Vineland Mayor Anthony Fanucci announced Tuesday the creation of a $5,000 grant assistance program for small businesses in the city.

The program is intended to serve those businesses who were operational as of December 31 and have been severely impacted, have no more than five full time or part time employees, and received limited or no COVID-19 assistance from the SBA or other government programs, according to a news release from the city.

The program is open to city retail, restaurants, entertainment and nonprofessional service businesses, according to the release. To be eligible, the business must have one employee, which can be the business owner, who will be retained and meets the low/moderate income requirement, or the business is located in an eligible program area.

To receive the grant funding, the business must commit to remain open or reopen, According to the release. Businesses deemed ineligible by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development will not be eligible. The funds may be used for payroll, rent, utilities, real estate taxes, insurance, inventory or costs to comply with social distancing protocols.

“This economic assistance program is intended to give our smaller Vineland-based businesses access to operating funds that they may not be able to acquire as they compete with much larger businesses,” said Fanucci. “The ‘mom and pop’ businesses are critical to Vineland’s successful economic emergence from the coronavirus shutdown. We are aware of their financial struggles and are working in every way we can to ease the burden.”

"We believe this is an opportunity to do more than just talk about supporting our local business community during this Pandemic, but to actually give support by providing this desperately needed assistance," said City Council President Paul Spinelli. "This certainly will not alleviate all their problems, but these small businesses are vital to our local economy and it is important they be given a helping hand in these unprecedented times."

Funding for the program is being appropriated from federal Community Development Block Grant COVID-19 CARES Funds.

The program requirements include:

  • The business must be located within the City of Vineland.
  • The grant funds may be used to pay unpaid expenses for a 60 day period.
  • Loan payments are not eligible expenses.
  • Applicant must provide list of expenses to be paid with grant application and backup documentation.
  • All grants must meet the CDBG National Objective of Low/Mod Income for the benefitting business. The business must document that it will retain at least one permanent job held by a low and moderate income person, and that the jobs would be lost without the CDBG assistance. The business must document the income of the low and moderate income person through a written self-certification by the employee and his/her family size and total income, or the business can presume that the job is held by a low-moderate income person if 1) the employee resides in a qualified low income area or 2) the business is located in a qualified low income area. Applicant must provide a list of employees and their salaries.
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development prohibits the Duplication of Benefits. This occurs when funding is provided for the same costs paid by other sources. Applicant must provide a list of any and all funding received from any source after March 16, 2020.
  • Applicant must certify that they will remain open or reopen if grant funds are received. If the applicant does not remain open or reopen, the grant funds must be returned.
  • Applicant will be required to complete a grant application and sign a grant agreement.
  • Funds are available to all eligible applicants meeting program requirements until all funds are distributed. The city reserves the right to reject applications that it deems do not meet the criteria of the program.

“My administration has taken this challenge seriously and is proposing a thoughtful and measured policy to support our most vulnerable small businesses during this public health crisis. They are feeling the brunt of this economic downturn through no fault of their own, and establishing this grant fund is one small thing the city can proactively do to help in this time of need,” Fanucci said.

Funding for the program is limited and grant applications will be reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis, according to the release. Businesses can download the application beginning Monday, June 29, from the city website at www.vinelandcity.org/covid-assistance/&lt;http://www.vinelandcity.org/covid-assistance/&gt;, and email the completed form to CAP@vinelandcity.org<mailto:CAP@vinelandcity.org>. Only completed applications which have been signed and dated will be considered ready for review.

For further information about the program, contact the Office of Economic Development at 856-794-4100, or email CAP@vinelandcity.org<mailto:CAP@vinelandcity.org>.

Stockton University faculty are looking for adults to participate in a research study on public response to the COVID-19 pandemic and how it has shaped the lives of people around the world.

The researchers are looking for a broad range of people ages 18 and older to take the online survey at COVID-19 International Survey or https://tinyurl.com/COVID-19InternationalStudy, according to a news release from the university. It should about 20 minutes to complete.

“We want people from all walks of life to help us gain a deeper understanding of this important public health issue, and its political and social ramifications, both domestically and internationally” said Stockton Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and principal investigator of the study, Manish Madan.

All responses are anonymous and participants can withdraw from the survey at any time, according to the release.There are 50 $10 Amazon gift cards being awarded to participants who complete the survey. Those who wish to participate in the drawing are asked to provide an email address for notification.

The project also has financial support from Saint Vincent College's Criminology, Law, & Society Department and Texas A&M University - San Antonio's Department of Social Sciences, according to the release.

Anyone with questions about the study can contact Manish at 609-626-3530 or email him at manish.madan@stockton.edu; Sarah Daly at sarah.daly@stvincent.edu; Brenda Rowe at brenda.rowe@tamusa.edu or Ashley Blinkhorn at ashley.blinkhorn@colorado.edu.

State officials have scheduled a 1 p.m. briefing Tuesday to update residents on the spread of COVID-19.

Appearing for the briefing will be Governor Phil Murphy, Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli, State Epidemiologist Dr. Christina Tan and State Police Superintendent Colonel Patrick Callahan.

So far, Atlantic County has reported 2,795 cases with 191 deaths and 1,373 residents cleared as recovered. Cape May County has reported 714 cases with 61 deaths and 530 designated off quarantine. Cumberland County has reported 2,414 cases with 127 deaths.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness or death.

First Lady Tammy Murphy announced Monday that she will be volunteering at several locations throughout the state, including Friends In Action, Inc.’s Food Distribution Site Event in Atlantic City.

No date was disclosed for Murphy's visit to the city. 

“The unparalleled COVID-19 public health crisis has revealed that New Jerseyans are not only resilient, but also overwhelmingly possess a remarkable sense of kindness and altruism,” Murphy said. “Throughout the state, our strong communities have come together to provide services to our most vulnerable populations and those who have been deeply impacted by COVID-19. By volunteering with several organizations, I have witnessed first-hand the importance of even the smallest gestures of service. I look forward to continuing this work and highlighting more incredible non-profit organizations in our state.”

Indoor dining will resume on July 2 at 25 percent capacity, Gov. Murphy announced on Monday. 

Murphy on Tuesday announced increased indoor and outdoor gathering capacity limits. 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, according to a news release from the governor. 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 commonsense public health measures that New Jerseyans have been complying with are now allowing for us to expand capacity limits,” Murphy said. “We will continue to evaluate and make reopening decisions based on data, science, and facts. I thank the people of our great state for the collective effort that has enabled us to take steps like these.”

Before Tuesday'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.

In addition, the 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.

GALLERY: St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church in Atlantic City reopens

Contact: 609-272-7241

mbilinski@pressofac.com

Twitter @ACPressMollyB

Staff Writer

My beat is public safety, following police and crime. I started in January 2018 here at the Press covering Egg Harbor and Galloway townships. Before that, I worked at the Reading Eagle in Reading, Pa., covering crime and writing obituaries.

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