OCEAN COUNTY – While many people want to spend time with family during the religious celebrations in spring, health officials are reminding residents that the social distancing regulations still apply.
The Executive Order was passed to slow the spread of COVID-19. As people get sick, they spread it to other people during these gatherings, and ultimately, to the medical community when they need treatment.
“The Governor’s Executive Order 107 is still in full force and calls for residents to stay home during Passover, Easter and Ramadan observances and refrain from social gatherings of any size until further notice,” said Ocean County Freeholder Gerry P. Little, liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health. “We certainly understand the disappointment that many people within our faith-based communities will have as they looked forward to friend and family gatherings, parties and events for the April holidays. However, this is an unprecedented time and we need everyone to do their part and adhere to the law.”
Religious leaders are urged to provide ways to celebrate without gathering in person. Some ceremonies are being televised or streamed online.
State and local police will continue to enforce the order that services, celebrations and meals must be limited to members who live in the same household, officials said.
“Ocean County is a diverse county with citizens representing all religions. While we all recognize our holidays, we must adhere to the mandates of social distancing and no large gatherings at this time for everyone’s safety,” explained Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari, Chairman of Senior Services and County Operations.
“New Jersey officials have asked us to reach out to our faith-based communities and leadership in an effort to remind people how important – especially during these festive times – to stay home and follow the social distancing guidelines,” advised Daniel Regenye, OCHD Public Health Coordinator. “As much as we’d like to make an exception for the holidays it’s just not possible. I can’t stress enough how these measures can ultimately save lives.”
“Faith-based and community leaders continue to be valuable resource of comfort and support for their members and communities during times of distress and anxiety that may be caused by the COVID-19 outbreak,” Little added. “In addition, these leaders can help us spread this important messaging regarding the current laws regarding social gatherings as we head into the heart of this joyous spring season.”
The Health Department reminded readers that COVID-19 can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, and it doesn’t have to be from someone who is coughing or sneezing. Someone with the disease can exhibit no symptoms and still transmit it. The virus can also live on surfaces for a time.
The best way to stay safe is to prevent exposure, Regenye said. And the most common way of being exposed is any type of gathering, religious or otherwise.
For more information on COVID-19, visit ochd.org. The OCHD has also set up a COVID Information Call Line for residents and clinicians to answer questions regarding the coronavirus. The number is 732-341-9700 ext. 7411.
Residents can also call the State Department of Health hotline available around the clock for questions at 1-800-222-1222 or dial 2-1-1.
Additional information can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019ncov/summary.html or New Jersey Department of Health website at state.nj.us/health/cd/topics/ncov.shtml.