Murphy warns of repercussions for those who defy state COVID-19 orders

Mike DeNardo
May 25, 2020 - 11:59 am

UPDATED 1:30 p.m.

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy says there will be fallout for places like churches and gyms that have opened up in defiance of his orders.

Murphy answered a question on CNN about the Solid Rock Baptist Church in Berlin, which held Sunday services in violation of his order limiting indoor gatherings to 10 people.

"There'll be repercussions in any case someone willfully violates our executive orders. But putting the specifics of that aside yet, I want to get churches going as well,” he said.

Murphy said anyone violating those orders faces enforcement actions, including summonses or, in the case of a Bellmawr gym, a court-ordered shutdown.

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"The overwhelming amount of folks who lead institutions of faith, who run and own gyms and salons, they understand this. They're champing at the bit. We get that. But they also understand the risks associated with it. And we've got to make sure we're all in this together and we do it the right way,” he said.

The right way, he says, is based on evidence the spread of the virus has slowed sufficiently.

"We're not there yet,” Murphy said. “I want to do it responsibly. I don't want to kill anybody."

Four South Jersey churches have sued the state in federal court, claiming the governor's order violates their constitutional rights to freedom of religion and assembly.

On Monday, Murphy relayed news from state health officials of 938 new COVID-19 cases, resulting in a New Jersey total of 155,092. The governor also reported 11 additional deaths since his last media briefing, bring the statewide total to 11,144 residents dead from the disease.