In recent days, Governor Murphy has imposed new COVID-19 restrictions, including revised indoor and outdoor capacity limits. In response, Senator Michael Testa urged the governor to ensure that alcohol and narcotics support group meetings be allowed to continue in person—regardless of any limitations on gatherings.
Senator Michael Testa urged Governor Murphy to ensure that alcohol and narcotics support group meetings be allowed to continue in person—regardless of new COVID-19 restrictions. (Pixabay)
“There are thousands of people in New Jersey who struggle with addiction each day,” said Testa (R-1). “Many of these individuals are in recovery, and currently rely on a 12-step support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. It is vital that these support groups be allowed to continue to hold in-person meetings. The type of help an individual receives in these groups cannot be duplicated in a video conferencing session.”
On November 16, Governor Murphy signed Executive Order No. 196, which lowered indoor and outdoor gathering limits to 10 people and 150 people respectively. The new indoor limit took effect on November 17, while the outdoor limit took effect on November 23.
Experts warned in early 2020 that alcohol and drug addictions, as well as overdose deaths, were likely to increase during the COVID-19 pandemic, and they were correct. According to an in-depth analysis by NJ Spotlight, New Jersey may experience a record-high number of overdose deaths this year.
“Support groups should not have to turn people away just because they hit an arbitrary indoor capacity limit. Unfortunately, this has already happened in a least one local AA meeting,” Testa added. “Overdoses are approaching record numbers in New Jersey, and Governor Murphy needs to understand that COVID-19 is not the only public health concern. If people practice social distancing and wear masks, there is no reason why these groups cannot continue to meet in person and provide vitally necessary services.”
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